§ Bill, as amended, further considered.
§ MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
rose to move, in page 3, line 40, to leave out from "Committee," to "subject," in page 4, line 1, and insert "but." He said, in bringing forward this Motion he thought he was entitled to deal with the general principles upon which this Bill was founded. They had heard a good deal of the British Colonies; but the plan adopted in the case of the Colonies had been departed from in the case of the present Bill, and, as they had gone on with this measure, they found that the Bill weakened the Im- 1109 perial supremacy and diminished the protection that was suggested as being provided for the minority. The Bill completely succeeded in weakening that supremacy and in diminishing the value of that protection. There could be no doubt that in the course of the Debates on the Bill they had heard a great deal about the Imperial supremacy; but whenever any attempt had been made to translate into practical provisions the Imperial supremacy, those attempts had been resisted by the Government. The hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton) had told them—it was incontrovertible—that the veto was an absolutely ineffective instrument for securing Imperial supremacy. The policy of the Government since 1886 had been to water down the provision made for the establishment of the veto, and in this clause they found it in its very weakest form. They had had no reasons given by the Prime Minister to show why the safeguards for supremacy should not be the same as in 1886. The Premier appeared to take great credit to himself for the principles laid down in this clause, and he said that the Nationalist Party did not object to it. But the fact that the Nationalists did not object did not encourage him (Mr. Macartney) in the belief that this was at all an effective or a valid provision. The hon. Member for North Kerry had warned him in the most distinct way that the Imperial Parliament would not be allowed to exercise this weapon to prevent the Irish Parliament doing that which would be within its sphere; he told them that no meddlesome interference would be permitted with the position and authority of the Irish Legislature. It might be said by the Prime Minister that he had the greatest confidence in the Irish Legislature; but it was to be remembered that while, perhaps, reliance might be placed on the hon. Member for North Kerry, that hon. Gentleman could not always be with them, and he thought when they looked into the future it was not satisfactory that this question of The exercise of the veto should rest upon such an expression as "capricious or vexatious"—a term which had no fixed meaning, but was open to doubt. The manner in which the hon. Member for North Kerry had accepted the proposal of the Prime 1110 Minister was open to a hundred thousand interpretations. He made his declaration with most perfect candour, but there was nothing in the manner of the acceptance to prevent the basing of the most extravagant pretensions upon it. It was J admitted by all that the Bill left almost every important topic connected with the internal Government of Ireland in an unsettled condition, and, therefore, they were justified in asking the Government to reconsider the question of the veto. They must look forward, both in Ireland and in the British Parliament, to numerous incongruities and inconveniences, and, owing to these incongruities and inconveniences, they must expect the intervention of the sovereign power far more frequently than would have been necessary if The Prime Minister had adhered to his first plan. The Amendment was suggested in the hope that it would diminish the friction that would be inevitable. It would bring the Imperial Ministry into more immediate contact with the Lord Lieutenant, and enable them to convey to him opportunely the decisions that were likely to be arrived at with regard to the legislation of the Irish Parliament. He also ventured to submit that no sufficient reason had been given for the departure from all the Colonial precedents. The Prime Minister would recollect that this question had only extremely short debate in Committee, being closured by the Chief Secretary. He would also recollect that no reason was given in support of the departure from Colonial precedents. The proposal in the Amendment would bring the great principle of the full reservation of the sovereign authority of this Parliament into more accord than the clause now did with the pledges given by the Government before the introduction of the measure; and it would go a considerable way towards making the supremacy of the British Parliament an actual fact instead of leaving it somewhat of a sham. The Amendment was founded on the Colonial precedents which had received the sanction of all Governments, including those of the Prime Minister himself. He was of opinion that the House was entitled to hear from the right hon. Gentleman some more substantial reason for retaining the clause in its present form than any that had yet been given.
In page 3, line 40, to leave out from the word "Committee," to the word "subject," in page 4, line 1, and insert the word "but."— (Mr. Macartney?)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE,) Edinburgh, Midlothian
The most important part of the subject mentioned by the hon. Gentleman is that in which he challenges us on our departure from Colonial precedents—the provisions in the Colonial Constitutions. Well, Sir, those provisions are due in part to the distance of the Colonies from the Mother Country, and in part to circumstances which have undergone complete change. I remember well when the ordinary average return post between England and India was 12 months, and there was analogous delay in communicating with the Colonies. The present facility of communication between London and Ireland constitutes a broad distinction betwen the case of Ireland and that of the Colonies. A single night suffices for the passage of written communications between the two countries, and there is no difficulty in transacting business by moans of such communications, to say nothing of the use of the telegraph as supplementary to the transmission of written documents. It is quite evident that the reservation aimed at by the Amendment ought not to be introduced unless there is a necessity for it; and we hold that there is no necessity for it. Everything that is needful can be known up to the last moment without any sensible interruption of business. Of course, the Lord Lieutenant is not to be compelled, nor will he be expected, to give his assent within 24 or 48 hours. There is no difficulty of that kind. Therefore, after full consideration, the Government cannot accept the Amendment.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (Manchester, E.)
I do not think, Sir, there is any analogy between the case of Ireland and that of distant Colonies. I admit that something is to be allowed for the facility of communication with Ireland, but I do not think the Prime Minister has quite apprehended the full purport and policy of the Amendment moved by my hon. 1112 Friend. Under the sub-section as it stands—and it is rather curiously worded— the Lord Lieutenant has a right to withhold his assent to any Bill; but I think it is important we should have in the Bill words which will protect the Lord Lieutenant from any misconstruction of the earlier phrasing of the sub-section, which says that the Lord Lieutenant shall, on the advice of the Executive Committee, give or withhold his assent on behalf of Her Majesty. If the words proposed by my hon. Friend are inserted I do not see that there would be any undue delay, or that any injury would be inflicted on the interests of either country, while it would mark the fact that the Lord Lieutenant must in every doubtful case consult the British Government, and he would himself be protected by the assent being withheld. As the sub-section stands, the matter may remain in doubt or ambiguity.
§ MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)
said, he would venture to suggest that the Leader of the Opposition had misapprehended the point of the Amendment. As far as concerned Imperial instructions to the Lord Lieutenant, the Amendment made no change whatever. The hon. Member for South Antrim (Mr. Macartney) talked of securing the Imperial supremacy, but the Amendment would not make the shadow of a shade of difference in regard to that supremacy which was already absolutely secured by the terms of the Bill. What would be effected by the Amendment would be to make the clause read in the following way:—The Lord Lieutenant shall, on the advice of the said Executive Committee, but subject, nevertheless, to any instructions given by Her Majesty in respect of any such Bill, declare either that he assents or dissents, or that he reserves the Bill for the signification of the Queen's pleasure.Anyone who read these words, and compared them with the words in the Bill, would see that they did not propose to make any change in reference to Imperial instructions to the Lord Lieutenant. If the Amendment were inserted the Imperial instructions would be in no way different from what those instructions would be under the Bill. What the hon. Gentleman really proposed to do was to alter the system of veto as between the Lord Lieutenant and the Executive Committee of the Irish Privy Council. By the scheme of the Bill—a 1113 very simple, reasonable, and, so far as Imperial supremacy was concerned, a very effective scheme—the Lord Lieutenant would be bound to act on the advice of the Irish Ministers unless he received instructions from the Sovereign. If he received instructions from the Sovereign, then these instructions would over-ride the will of the Irish Executive. What did the hon. Member propose to substitute for that simple and effective scheme? That the Lord Lieutenant should declare that he would assent or reserve the Bill for the signification of the Queen's pleasure. Did the hon. Gentleman who drafted this Amendment allow his mind to run before and imagine the circumstances to which he would apply himself? Evidently the hon. Member for South Antrim thought it possible that the Irish Executive Committee might advise the Lord Lieutenant to reserve a Bill—although the Chamber to which they were responsible had passed it—and to send to London to know what the Imperial Government thought about it. The suggestion was absurd, and the hon. Member was providing for a state of affairs which could never possibly arise. Because it was not conceivable that the Irish Executive would advise the Lord Lieutenant to reserve a Bill passed by their own Chambers in order to await the signification of the Queen's pleasure. The second point was that while reserving the Bill the hon. Member did not say what was to be done with it in the meantime. He would have expected from an hon. Gentleman who aspired to be a Constitutional Leader that when he moved his Amendment he would at least, having reserved the Bill, say what was to happen to it afterwards. He made no provision, and apparently the Bill dropped out of sight or out of existence altogether. He would only say that, in the first place, the Amendment proposed to make a system for an impossible state of affairs; and, in the second place, the hon. Member did not follow up his Amendment by proposing to make any necessary provision as to what would happen in case the Bill was reserved.
§ *COMMANDER BETHELL (York, E.E., Holderness)
said, he thought the Amendment made the matter clearer. A subsequent Amendment could be put down to say what was to happen after a Bill was reserved.
§ *MR. BLAKE (Longford, S.)
wished to say that in Colonial Institutions not only with reference to subordinate Legislatures subject to a Colonial Legislature which had the power of review, but also with reference to the relations of Colonial Legislatures to the Sovereign and Central Power, the trend and drift of opinion had been adverse to the power of reservation. The change made about 1878 in the form of the instructions omitted a number of cases in which it was made the duty of the Governor General of Canada to reserve Bills; and in practice, as between the subordinate Legislatures in Canada and the Central Legislature, it was now the settled Constitutional view that the power of reservation, which nominally existed, was not Constitutionally to be exercised. The proper course was agreed to be to assent to the Bill, and leave it afterwards to be dealt with in another fashion. He wanted to point out that there was a practical inconvenience in the power of reservation, because wherever they proceeded by reservation they imposed upon the Central Authority the duty of deciding not merely whether they would negative the Bill or not, but also whether they would or would not give it the force of law by positive assent, and he thought the duty of the Sovereign Authority should not be complicated by any such consideration. With reference to the remark of the hon. Member who had just sat down, that the clause was ambiguous at present, he averred that the clause was as clear as it could be made as it stood, and that it would only be confused if the Amendment were adopted.
§ MR. ROSS (Londonderry)
said, he thought that in dealing with Ireland it was imperative that every one of the Acts of the Irish Legislature should be brought before Her Majesty's Imperial advisers, and be made the subject of thoughtful investigation. There was no clear means by which the exercise of the Lord Lieutenant's veto was to be put into operation. Under what circumstances was the veto to be initiated? There was no provision made for that whatever, and he therefore thought some such Amendment was necessary.
§ MR. MATTHEWS (Birmingham, E.)
I conceive that under the wording of the Bill as it stands, in any case in which the Lord Lieutenant may think it reasonable to ask for special instructions from Her Majesty's Advisers here, with respect to any Bill under consideration, he would be enabled, as a matter of right, to claim a reasonable time—a week or a fortnight—to obtain those instructions. If the opinion of the Solicitor General were given, it might tend to clear the matter up.
§ *THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir J. RIGBY,) Forfar
I will only say that I concur in the view which has been already given by the Attorney General.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ *MR. GERALD BALFOUR (Leeds, Central)
moved an Amendment to insert words to provide that the Royal Assent should be given or withheld, subject "to the provisions of this Act" as well as to any instructions given by Her Majesty. His reason for desiring the insertion of the words was this—they had been told, in the course of the Debates, that where the Lord Lieutenant considered Bills passed by the two Houses of the Irish Legislature to be ultra vires he would veto them. As the clause now stood, it would not be possible for the Lord Lieutenant to do anything of the kind without receiving instructions from the Imperial Government. It appeared to him that the subsection was at present framed in such a way as to leave the Lord Lieutenant no discretion whatever on his own account. He must either act according to the advice of the Executive Committee, or according to any instructions that might be given by Her Majesty. His object in moving to insert these words was to give the Lord Lieutenant the power, of his own motion and on his own responsibility, to veto a Bill which he conceived to be contrary to the provisions of Clauses 3 and 4.
In page 4, line 2, after the word "nevertheless," to insert the words "to the provisions of this Act, and."—(Mr. Gerald Balfour.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."1116
§ *THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir C. RUSSELL,) Hackney, S.
The hon. Member will see, and the House will recognise, that the Amendment cannot possibly effect the object in view. The Lord Lieutenant either has the power which the Amendment proposes to give him, or he has not. If he has the power, the words are not required; but if be has not the power, the words will not give it to him, and will have no operation whatever.
§ MR. CARSON (Dublin University)
said, the question which had been raised was a serious one. As he understood the Amendment, what the Mover wished to put forward was this: that supposing the Lord Lieutenant had received no instructions, and supposing he was of opinion or might imagine that the Bill passed by the Irish Legislature contravened the provisions of Clause 3 or Clause 4, what was he do? Under the clause as it at present stood the Lord Lieutenant had to give his assent to the Bill unless he had received instructions from Her Majesty to the contrary. As he understood the Amendment, his hon. Friend wished in some way or other to give the Lord Lieutenant some discretion—either to enable him to obtain advice of the Law Officer or some person who might be competent to give it. He did not know whether the form of the veto might be that it was meant in every case that the Lord Lieutenant was to send over the Bill, and himself to take instructions upon it. If that was so, of course it would get rid of the difficulty. But that was not what the clause said. If the clause meant that it ought to be distinctly stated; it would be the easiest thing in the world to state it upon the face of the clause. At present no discretion was left to the Lord Lieutenant, and he must in this case, unless he got those instructions, give his assent to a Bill which might contravene the provisions of Clauses 3 and 4. The only answer given by the Attorney General was not an answer to the principle they wished to establish here. The Attorney General had put forward one of those general propositions which nobody could dispute. They did not want generalities; they wanted the Attorney General to tell them whether the Lord Lieutenant had this power or not. He did not take the view of the 1117 Attorney General. He himself held that these words would have the effect which the Mover of the Amendment suggested. He submitted that the Amendment raised a question which vitally affected the whole machinery as to how they were to give effect to Clauses 3 and 4. He hoped the Attorney General would tell them how the matter would be carried out.
§ MR. ROSS
said, he would like to know what was the meaning of the words—Subject, nevertheless, to any instructions given by Her Majesty in respect of any such Bill"?Did those words involve this: that every Bill was to come over here for the assent of the Imperial Ministers, or that the Lord Lieutenant was to act on the advice of the Irish Executive unless instructions were specially sent over? The matter was not clear in the clause as it stood.
§ MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)
said, the Debates on this subject had already been rather prolonged, and questions about the veto had been asked again and again. From his recollection, he thought he could say that it had been often explained that the Lord Lieutenant would act upon the advice of the Irish Ministers unless be received instructions to the contrary, which was the system in the Bill. Whatever learned Gentlemen might desire—and certainly the hon. Member for Dublin University had made his desire very clear—he thought it was beyond denial that the words of the Amendment effected nothing. What the hon. Member wished was that, subject not only to instructions from Her Majesty, but to all the provisions of the Act, the Lord Lieutenant should give or withhold his assent. The reply of the Attorney General was unanswerable. If the provisions of the Act, to which the hon. Member referred, were applicable at all, they would apply themselves without words. If there were provisions anywhere in the Act applying to the subject of this clause, they would necessarily apply themselves without words to that effect; and if any provisions in the Act elsewhere did not apply to the veto, no words that the hon. Member could suggest would help him. He ventured to think that the hon. Member for Dublin University was in error as to the effect of the application of those 1118 words to Clauses 3 and 4. The hon. Member said that any law made in contravention of the section would be void. That pointed to an Act of assent, and Clauses 3 and 4 could only apply to a Bill which by assent had become law; and then, when it became law, the Bill provided elaborate machinery for making the Bill void if necessary. He therefore took issue with the hon. Gentleman that the Lord Lieutenant was to anticipate the decision of the Judicial Tribunal and make himself in any sense a Judge of ultra vires. The Act was clear. Specific and abundant directions were given as to when a Bill would or would not be ultra vires; and the Prime Minister lately, in these Debates, in the most conclusive terms pointed out how contrary to public policy it was, and how contrary to public convenience it might be, that after the passing of a Bill by the two Chambers in Ireland, the Lord Lieutenant should take it upon himself to form an opinion as to whether the Bill was ultra vires—a matter properly reserved to the Judicial Tribunal—and having given that opinion should refuse his assent to the Bill. If anybody supposed that under such conditions there could be harmony in Ireland he had only to say it would be impossible. They should leave the judicial question to the Judicial Body, and if there was any reason to suppose that a Bill was ultra vires that question should be reserved to that Body alone. If they attempted to turn a political official into a Judge or tribunal, and allowed him to suggest that a Bill was beyond powers, and then make that his own decision, they would turn everything topsy-turvy. The question remained, was the Lord Lieutenant to send over some Bills, any Bill, or every Bill to London, whilst at the same time he was directed to act upon Irish advice in the absence of instructions from Loudon? If the Lord Lieutenant was to act as a Political Agent, to select Bills and to discriminate between them—if he was to be allowed to say that in the case of one Bill he would give his assent and in another that he would refuse it—the result would be to generate prejudice and suspicion in the Irish mind in reference to the Lord Lieutenant; and where the assent was refused, the people in Ireland would suspect that it was so refused because the 1119 Lord Lieutenant made some suggestion on the subject. He assumed the Lord Lieutenant would act upon some advice or other. It was for the Imperial Ministry to inform themselves of what proceeded in the Irish Legislature. They could easily do that, as they were within a few hours' journey of Ireland. The proceedings of the Irish Legislature would be reported from day to day, and he did not see how any difficulty could arise. He respectfully submitted that, for the official and smooth working of the Government in Ireland, it was desirable that the Lord Lieutenant, in respect of the veto, should be a perfectly impartial person, should take no initiative of his own, and should act upon Irish advice where it was given to him, and upon Imperial advice where it was given to him.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Our view is perfectly plain in this matter. We entirely agree that the Lord Lieutenant should possess the power that is desired. We believe that he does possess it; and that if he does not possess it, the words proposed, as the Attorney General has said, will not give it to him. It does not require a special provision in Clause 5 to enable him to refuse his assent. It is his absolute duty to obey the law and refuse his assent if he should see that a Bill is ultra vires.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The speech of the right hon. Gentleman does point to the conclusion that some words ought to be imported into the clause, in order to make the meaning of Sub-section 10 clear. The reason I say that is that two gentlemen, great authorities on the subject, both give an entirely different interpretation as to its meaning. There is the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and there is the hon. Member for North Kerry who has given an entirely different version, both as to the power and the duties of the Lord Lieutenant. The hon. Member for North Kerry derides the idea that it would be the duty of the Lord Lieutenant to consider whether or not an Act of the Irish Legislature was consistent with the provisions of Clauses 3 and 4 of this Bill. According to the hon. Member, the question would not be one for the Lord Lieutenant, but for the Law Courts. But the Prime Minister, on the other hand, says that it is not only within the power of the Lord Lieutenant, but that 1120 it would be his absolute duty, to form a judgment upon that very question. The second difference is not much less important. The hon. Member for North Kerry takes the view—and I bring myself more in accord with him than with the Government—that the Lord Lieutenant always acts under advice. It may be the advice of the Irish Administration, or it may be the advice of the English Administration; but when he acts it is always under advice like a Constitutional Sovereign. That is the view of the hon. Member for North Kerry, but it is not the view of the Government. On that point, also, they entirely differ from the hon. Member for North Kerry. They think the Lord Lieutenant acts in three quite distinct capacities—as a Constitutional Sovereign under the advice of the Irish Government, as a Constitutional Sovereign under the advice of the English Government, and as a Minister himself of his own initiative. That is the view of the Government, but it is not the view of the hon. Member for North Kerry. This is a matter which should be made perfectly plain, as it would be if the words of my hon. Friend were introduced into the Bill. On these two points it is quite clear there is a wide distinction between the views of the Government and the hon. Member for North Kerry. There is a third point. I understand the view of the hon. Member for North Kerry to be not only that the Lord Lieutenant invariably acts under advice, but that he has no initiative to select which set of advisers to go to. His view is that the Lord Lieutenant may be passive or, as he calls it, impartial in Ireland on the question of the veto; that he is to act on the advice of the Irish Government, unless, without their being set in motion by the Lord Lieutenant at all, the English Ministers step in and say—"You have received this advice from the Irish Government; we give you contrary advice; and as between these two sets of advisers, of course, under the Act, you have got to choose us." I believe that view of the hon. Member for North Kerry to be an accurate view. If that be so, here is a third point on which he differs from the Government, because I believe the Government hold that if the Bill is to be made a rational workable measure one of the most important and interesting questions of discretion that 1121 will be left to the Lord Lieutenant is whether or not he will appeal to the English Ministry to give him advice with regard to certain Bills. As I conceive the mode in which the Lord Lieutenant will deal with his duties, it will be this. A Bill comes up, and it is obviously of a character within the competence of the Irish Legislature, and in which no question of general policy or the rights of special minorities is concerned, he will act on the advice of the Irish Ministers, nothing more will be said, and the Act will become law, or, at any rate, until somebody chooses to contest it before the Privy Council. If, on the other hand, he considers it a doubtful case, he will, according to the Government, either of his own initiative refuse, assent, or say— "It is not a question I can act upon without advice, and I will insist on appealing to English Ministers," on whoso advice he will have to act. But the Member for North Kerry takes an entirely different view. He thinks the Lord Lieutenant is to receive these Bills as they come up, and unless and until he gets word from the English Ministers he is to give his assent as of course. I think, if my hon. Friend's Amendment has done nothing else, it has, at all events, given us an occasion on which we may really get to the bottom of this matter. I do not wish to put meta physical or abstruse questions to the Government; but this is an important question of policy, on which great divisions exist not between them and us, but even between them and their supporters. That being so, I think the least we have a right to ask is that they shall make a perfectly clear exposition of their views of what the Lord Lieutenant ought to do, and of the mode in which they think these views are to be carried out.
MR. J. MORLEY
The first point the right hon. Gentleman puts is whether the Lord Lieutenant can, under any circumstances, absolve himself from the necessity of either taking the advice of the Irish Ministers or seeking instructions from Ministers here? The Government hold, undoubtedly, that cases might arise when it would be the Lord Lieutenant's plain, obvious duty to withhold his assent from Bills without consultation with English Ministers. I will give a case, and then the hon. Member for Kerry will see the force of our position. Supposing 1122 the Irish Legislature were to pass a Bill endowing any Church, or a Bill providing funds for the use of an Irish Envoy to a Foreign Court, it would not be necessary for the Lord Lieutenant to consult the English Ministers before withholding his assent from such measures. He would see for himself that they were absolutely ultra vires, and would act accordingly. Now, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman took another point, and, undoubtedly, a point of great interest. He said, take a case where Irish Ministers tendered advice in respect of Bills to the Lord Lieutenant, and he then asked—"Is the Lord Lieutenant to be free to say to his Irish Minister I do not like your Bill, and I shall invite some other set of gentlemen to form a Ministry who will not bring in this Bill. Is he to be free to do this?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Is he to be free to say—"I do not like your Bill; I will refer to another set of advisers"—namely, the English Ministers? That is what I meant to convey.
MR. J. MORLEY
I should have thought that in all matters exclusively Irish which were entirely within the competence of the Irish Government the Lord Lieutenant would be as free as a Colonial Governor to say to his Irish Ministers—"I do not like your Bill." He would not say—"I will refer to the English Ministry," but he would say— "I will invite Mr. So-and-so to form an Administration with another policy." A Colonial Governor might take, and would take, that course, and I do not know why the Lord Lieutenant should not be allowed to take the same course.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
That, I think, has never been in dispute. What I understood was in dispute between the hon. Member for North Kerry and the Government was this—whether the Lord Lieutenant, acting Ministerially and acting under advice, may choose the set of advisers to control his action? This subsection contemplates that, under certain circumstances, he is to act on the advice of British Ministers. Is he to wait until the British Ministers put him in motion, or may he say—"I will appeal to them and see what their views are"?
MR. J. MORLEY
If he chooses he might, undoubtedly, communicate with the English Ministry. If he sought their advice that would be a matter for his own discretion.
§ MR. DUNBAR BARTON (Armagh, Mid)
desired to point out the great importance of this difference which had arisen between tire Government and the hon. Member for North Kerry. It was not an academic difference, not a mere difference of opinion. What did the hon. Member for North Kerry say? He said that if his view was not correct there would be suspicion bred in the Irish people as to the Lord Lieutenant, and he further said that this Constitution could not work smoothly unless his view was correct. It was important they should know that on this vital question affecting the relations between the Imperial Government and the British Government, and which affected the exercise of the veto of the Lord Lieutenant, the theory which the Government had now pinned themselves to was one which, on the authority of the hon. Member for North Kerry, would not work smoothly, and would breed suspicion between the Irish people and the Representative of the Crown.
§ MR. MATTHEWS (Birmingham, E.)
May I point out one point in which Section 5, as it stands, is in direct conflict with the view of the right hon. Gentleman opposite as to what it ought to imply? The right hon. Gentleman said that if the Irish Legislature presented to the Lord Lieutenant a Bill for providing funds for the appointment of an Envoy from Ireland to the Court of France, or for the endowment of any religion in Ireland, he is not to assent to the Bill, and that he may dissent without instructions from the English Ministry. Sub-section 3 does not say that. Sub-section 3 is imperative upon the Lord Lieutenant to follow the advice of his Executive Committee, unless he has got instructions. It says in terms that the Lord Lieutenant shall, on the advice of the Executive Committee, give or withhold assent, subject, nevertheless, to instructions given. I venture humbly to think that the argument of the hon. Member for North Kerry was extremely convincing on that point, because he said Sections 3 and 4 assumed that ultra vires laws may be laws in force. There 1124 may be a law as ultra, vires as you please—say for the endowment of the Presbyterian religion in Ireland—which yet has received the assent of the Lord Lieutenant, and is law. The hon. Member for North Kerry said with equal force that you have got a special provision, and you may object. A law of that kind which is void is to be declared void—namely, by reference to the judicial authority; therefore, the proposition of the Chief Secretary that the Lord Lieutenant has some reserved discretion in his third capacity for dissenting without any instructions is a proposition which is contradicted both by the terms of Section 5, and by the inference drawn from the language of Sections 3 and 4. May I observe upon this same point that the theory of the Government is so novel that it requires express words to carry it out? The Lord Lieutenant represents the Sovereign. I suppose there are some functions of the Lord Lieutenant for which he can himself be made responsible, and the Sovereign never can be made responsible. But in this particular function of giving assent to a Bill he represents the Sovereign in a peculiar sense as a Member of the Legislature; and I should have thought that, without express words, it was quite clear he must act under advice. There must be some Minister responsible for the assent or dissent which the Lord Lieutenant indicates to the proposals of the Legislature; consequently, if he has not got the advice of his Irish Executive, he must have the instructions of English Ministers to enable him to act. The Government, on the other hand, take the view that the Lord Lieutenant, although he is a Constitutional Sovereign, yet still is a man of sense and a reasonable being, and is not bound to assent to a law which, on the face of it, any person would declare to be a nullity and void. Well, surely, you want express words in Clause 5 indicating that he may act in this way. It is contrary to the language of the clause as it stands, and it is contrary to the Constitutional doctrine that Constitutional advice must be obtained before he assents or dissents.
§ *SIR F. S. POWELL (Wigan)
said, it certainly appeared to him that if the intention of the Government was as had been disclosed to the Chief Secretary, it 1125 was not expressed by the text of the Bill. In the case of a colony, the Governor acted on his own responsibility. He assented or dissented, and nothing was said in the Colonial Acts as to any advice; but in the case of the present Bill the language of the clause was perfectly clear. The Lord Lieutenant was to act under advice, and he submitted, therefore, that he was bound either to follow that advice or dismiss the Ministry. The Lord Lieutenant might think that a Bill submitted to him was a Bill full of evil consequences; but he was bound to accept that Bill should the Executive Committee give him that advice. He might think, moreover, as was stated by the Chief Secretary, that it was an infringement of Clause 3. It might be for the endowment of a Church, or for the appointment of a foreign Envoy; but the Lord Lieutenant would be bound to follow the advice of the Executive Committee if they desired him to sanction this Bill, and then the cure for any mischief must be under a subsequent section of the Bill—Section 20—which gave power to a Court to deal with any such legislation, and declare it void by a solemn decree. He felt strongly that the intention of the Government was entirely sound; but he was sure they had failed once more in the drafting of the Bill, and that their intention was not carried out by the language of the clause.
§ *MR. BUTCHER (York)
ventured to think that in the course of the discussion of this Amendment they really had touched upon one of the vital questions involved in this Bill. They had now come to a clear and definite issue between the Chief Secretary and the hon. Member for North Kerry. On the one hand, the Chief Secretary told them that the Lord Lieutenant could, without any instructions from a Member of the British Cabinet, withhold his assent to an Irish Bill, although the Executive Committee directing him might have advised him to assent to it. On the other hand, the hon. Member for North Kerry said most distinctly that the Lord Lieutenant could do nothing of the kind. What he ventured to submit to the Government was this—that on the wording of this Section 5, as it stood, the construction placed upon the Bill by the hon. Member for North Kerry 1126 was correct. The section was directory to the Lord Lieutenant. It said—The Lord Lieutenant shall, on the advice of the said Executive Committee, give or withhold the assent of Her Majesty.There was, no doubt, a subsequent proviso directing that the Lord Lieutenant should act subject to any instructions given to Her Majesty; but if no instructions were given there was no alternative for him but to act on the advice of the Executive Committee. If that were so, he thought they might fairly appeal to the Government to accept the Amendment, and insert words in the Bill that would put an end to this most unfortunate difference that had arisen between them and their allies of the Irish Party.
§ MR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)
said, that in the course of this discussion the hon. Member for North Kerry had brought out one point, at all events, and that was that if the Lord Lieutenant sought the advice of the English Ministry he would become extremely unpopular. Could anyone doubt that? The Chief Secretary said —"Suppose a Bill is brought before him to send an Envoy to a Foreign Court, or to endow a Church." But there was no fear of any such Bill being brought before him. He did not fancy that a Bill so outrageous and so much in direct opposition to the present Bill would be brought forward. Suppose, however, that a Bill a shade beyond the powers of the Irish Legislature was passed. The Lord Lieutenant, on it being brought before him, might say he did not see his way to give his assent to it, and ask for the advice of the English Ministry, who would decide against the Bill. The Irish Legislature would naturally say that if the Lord Lieutenant had not asked for advice, but had given his assent to the Bill, no question would have been raised at all by the English Executive. The entire blame of stopping that Bill, and other Bills of the kind, would be laid not upon the English Executive, but upon the Lord Lieutenant. It should, therefore, be made clear in such a case that the English Executive were to act on their own motion, and the Lord Lieutenant must wait for them to act, or else that he was bound to ask for their advice.
§ SIR E. CLARKE (Plymouth)
I should like, before this matter closes, to 1127 express my strong opinion as to the necessity of putting some words into Clause 5 in order to carry out the view of the Prime Minister. The words in the Amendment would be extremely apt and effective words. The declarations of the Prime Minister and of the Chief Secretary for Ireland are entirely satisfactory. The declaration now is that it would be the duty of the Lord Lieutenant to refuse his assent to a Bill which was inconsistent with the limitations imposed in Sections 3 and 4; and they have swept away the contention—which was a perfectly unreasonable and untenable contention—that it was the Lord Lieutenant's duty to assent to anything, whether inconsistent with the clause or not, and to leave it to be decided by a judicial tribunal at some future time, even in reference to Bills which were most manifestly inconsistent with the Act. I would point out to the Prime Minister that if he desires, as I am sure he does, to secure on the face of the Bill the establishment of the principle he has so distinctly laid down, some words are necessary here. Suppose a Bill to have passed the two Houses of the Irish Legislature which distinctly and manifestly contravenes the limitations imposed in one part of Section 3. Suppose a Bill is passed dealing with alienage and aliens as such—a matter which is clearly excluded from the power of the Irish Legislature. This Bill is brought to the Lord Lieutenant for his assent. What has he to do? The 5th clause tells him what he has to do. Sub-section 3 says—The Lord Lieutenant shall, on the advice of the said Executive Committee, give or withhold the assent of Her Majesty to Bills passed by the two Houses of the Irish Legislature, subject, nevertheless, to any instructions given by Her Majesty in respect of any such Bill.Suppose Her Majesty gives no instructions at all, and even if the Lord Lieutenant were to consult the Ministers here, and ask to be advised on the matter, those Ministers might say, in the very words which the Prime Minister has used this afternoon—"It is your duty to see whether this is in contravention of Clause 3, and if you see that it is to give effect to your view." The answer of the Lord Lieutenant would be this—"By Section 5 you have told me that I shall give or withhold my assent on the advice of the Executive Committee." But that Exe- 1128 cutive Committee, by the hypothesis, is the very Government which has passed through these two Houses the Bill which is so manifestly inconsistent with Clause 3. I submit to the Prime Minister that the words which my hon. Friend has proposed are exactly appropriate words. My learned Friend the Attorney General said that the provisions of the Bill always applied, and that the Lord Lieutenant was acting under the provisions of the Bill. Not so. Here is the specific instruction to the Lord Lieutenant—that in dealing with this particular part of his delegated power he shall act upon the advice of the Executive Committee in Ireland; and, as the Bill now stands, I say, without the smallest hesitation, that if they passed a Bill obviously inconsistent with Clause 3, then presented it to the Lord Lieutenant, and he received no instructions from Her Majesty, it would be his absolute duty to give assent to that Bill.
*SIR E. CLABKE
Certainly, because there is a mandate to him to act on the advice of the Executive Committee in Ireland. What can he do? Supposing he said to the Executive Committee—"This Bill is in contravention to the limitations of Clause 3," their answer to him would bo—"Look at Clause 5, which specifically says you are to act upon our advice." All this difficulty could be avoided if the Government would only give effect to their own view of the matter, and accept the words which my hon. Friend proposes, because these words would then apply the provisions of Clauses 3 and 4 to the discharge of that duty prescribed in Section 5, and would make it perfectly clear that it was the duty of the Lord Lieutenant to take that course which the Prime Minister has so distinctly declared it ought to be his duty to take.
§ SIR H. JAMES
said, if the Government had time for reflection, he thought the Prime Minister, at least, would desire to carry out the views which he had himself expressed. If the right hon. Gentleman would look at the matter for a moment he would see that these words had that object. They were told that the Lord Lieutenant was to have these capacities—as representing the Queen, as an Imperial Minister, and as Lord 1129 Lieutenant in advice with the Irish Executive. When a Bill was passed by the Irish Legislature they would submit it to him for his assent. He was bound to act upon the advice of the Irish Executive. There could be no doubt about that, for the words were, "He shall act." If he were to act otherwise than upon their advice he would be a usurper. No such question could arise in this country. The supremacy here, at all events, was assured. In Ireland various questions might arise. When a Bill was brought to the Lord Lieutenant he was told that he should, as required by the Act, follow the advice of the Executive. The Prime Minister said he was protected, because he would not be called upon to obey the Act——
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I did not say that. I said he would not, with his eyes open, disobey this Act.
§ SIR H. JAMES
said, it was the same thing. He admitted that when an Act was brought to the Lord Lieutenant, which was a good and useful measure, he would take the advice given. The question was, however, whether a Bill was good or bad. If he refused his assent he placed himself in a position which would subject him to an extreme penalty. The Irish Legislature might pass an illegal Act. What, thou, would be the position of the Lord Lieutenant? Was he protected by this Act? Under the clause as it stood, be was subject to the Act, but he was not protected by it. If these words were inserted the intention of the Prime Minister, and, he believed, the majority of the House, would be carried out. The Prime Minister having declared that the Lord Lieutenant might exercise his discretion apart from the Executive, unprotected by Constitutional advice, he was asked that he should put the Lord Lieutenant in the position that he would be able to refer to the Act and see that he could deal with a Bill under its provisions, and with perfect protection to himself. As it was, he was to be placed in a dangerous position—the words proposed were really for the purpose of carrying out the Government's own intention. There was a point of substantial importance upon which he had to say a word. If the Lord Lieutenant had before him a Bill of 15 clauses, 10 of which were ultra vires, what was he to do? 1130 On whoso advice was he to act? He would wish to give his assent to the useful clauses of the measure, perhaps; but he could not give his assent to the other 10. To whom was he to look? To the Executive Council. He was bound to follow their advice, the question being not Imperial but local. If he did not look to them—if he exercised his discretion—he was placed in a position by which he had an arbitrary right of sovereignty—a greater Constitutional power, he feared, than the Sovereign herself. A Viceroy placed in such a position would be most unhappy and the most to be pitied of any of Her Majesty's subjects. He would be placed in conflict with the Executive; and he repeated that that was not desirable, and that the clause was entitled to reconsideration by the Government.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
said, the right hon. and learned Gentleman went on the supposition that in future the Lord Lieutenant would be always a fool. That was their experience of Viceroys; but doubtless the gentlemen of the future would be possessed of a fair measure of intelligence. Let them take the case where a bit of railway was being made which might, or might not touch some portion of the Crown land. That might be a question of fact; and to toll him that the Lord Lieutenant was to go down to the County of Cork and find out by some means whether, as a matter of fact, this Act was dealing with a piece of Crown laud, instead of leaving it to the local military authorities to apply to have the Act abolished, was to tell him what was absurd. The position taken up by the Unionist Party was that when the Government offered one provision they asked for something else. They did not say that the provision giving the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council power to determine questions of ultra vires was no good, but they said they wanted something else. They would not have a paper safeguard; they wanted a brown-paper safeguard. Could anything be more absurd? If all the provisions of the Bill were paper safeguards, absolutely useless, what did they gain by putting in these tissue-paper safeguards in addition? He (Mr. T. M. Healy) conceived that if the Lord Lieutenant were asked to pass a Bill that was plainly ultra vires he would veto it; but if he got a Bill that was not plainly 1131 ultra vires, and if he was advised by responsible men that it was within the powers of the Legislature, unless he was a person, say, of the typo of Lord Londonderry—
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Or of some of the jockey Viceroys whom they had had in Ireland, the Lord Lieutenant would probably take note of the good sense of his advisers, and, unless the matter was clear and plain, he would refuse to veto the Bill. They had had a question put that day by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean (Sir C. Dilke), who asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies under what Statute, British or Colonial, the Commander of H.M.S. Pelican acted in forbidding the inhabitants of St. George's Bay, Newfoundland,to sell herring to any other parties than the French ships in port, or who may arrive in port, until they are baited,or in proclaiming by posterthe price of herring is fixed for the present at one dollar per barrel.No doubt some provision would be made in this Bill to fix the price of herring at a dollar a barrel! And the Lord Lieutenant would consult his advisers as to the fixing of the price of herring! He (Mr. T. M. Healy) ventured to say that business in Ireland would be carried out in good temper in every respect. What they objected to in the provision of the hon. Gentleman opposite was this—that it converted the Lord Lieutenant into a Judge. He would not have the case argued against or argued for. He would not have advice on both sides. The case would not be settled in open court. It would be settled by him in secret. The Government proposed that if there was a doubt it should be argued on both sides by a proper tribunal on judicial principles. They consented to the application to the matter of what they had got inserted in the Bill—namely, "due process of law." On the principles of due process of law, and not upon the principles of private negotiation or private practice, they hoped to see this Bill carried out.
§ Question put, and agreed to.1132
Clause 5, page 4, line 3, at end, add—
(4) The Lord Lieutenant shall, subject to the above conditions, have the power of cancelling and annulling Resolutions passed by either House or both Houses of the Irish Legislature.
(5) Any Petition from either House or both Houses of the Legislature to Her Majesty's Government or to Parliament shall be forwarded to the Lord Lieutenant, who shall in his discretion and subject to the above conditions transmit or withhold transmission of the same.
He did not, however, propose moving the Amendment. The question which it raised had been more or loss discussed in Committee, and once more on the Report stage; and as anything he could say would not induce the Government to accept the Amendment he would withdraw it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ *MR. BUTCHER (York)
said, he begged to move the Amendment standing in his name—Clause 5, page 4, line 3, at end, add—"Provided that, except upon instructions given by Her Majesty, no such assent shall be given by the Lord Lieutenant until the expiration of 40 days after such Bills have been passed by the two Houses of the Irish Legislature.The object of the Amendment was to give reality to the safeguard of the Imperial veto, and to provide that some reasonable time should be given to the Imperial Government for the purpose, if they thought proper, of giving instructions to the Lord Lieutenant in the case of a Bill which might be ultra, vires or oppressive and unjust in character. The hon. Member for- Waterford (Mr. J. E. Redmond), the Leader of one section of the Nationalist Party, gave a gloomy acquiescence to the veto, and the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy), the Leader of the other section, had, he understood, no serious objection to it. In Clause 5 it was provided that the Lord Lieutenant should give his assent on behalf of Her Majesty, subject to instructions from the Imperial Government. His Amendment proposed to give time to the Imperial Government, if they thought proper, to give instructions to the Lord Lieutenant. As the matter stood, the Lord Lieutenant could give his assent to a Bill on the very day that it was passed, or within a week, and there would be no time for considering the Bill, or for giving instructions to the Lord Lieutenant. He was quite aware that no time was fixed for the 1133 Lord Lieutenant to give his assent in; but he might give it on the very next day that Bill was passed. His desire was that a period of 40 days should be fixed for, as he had said, the purpose of allowing the Imperial Government to consider what ought to be done. The hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton) had suggested that it would be the duty of British Ministers to real the Irish newspapers; but he (Mr. Butcher) expected that the British Ministers would be better employed in looking after British interests than in watching the eccentricities of the Irish Parliament. It was suggested that the Homo Secretary, on reading in the newspapers what was occurring in the Irish Parliament, could send over instructions by telegraph. Those were things which they could not contemplate as reasonable, and so he thought some reasonable time should be allowed in order that the Imperial Government might consider the measures that were passed. They might be told that occasions upon which that Imperial veto would be exercised would be so rare that it would be hardly worth while bringing it into effect. But it was quite possible the Irish Government might he disposed to trench upon the right reserved from them, and pass laws beyond their power. Such Bills ought to be submitted to the Imperial Cabinet; but, under the provision made by the Government, the Lord Lieutenant was bound to give his assent to those Bills. There was another class of Bills which should come under the consideration of the Imperial Cabinet, and that was Bills of an oppressive character. On this point he might appeal to the supporters of the Government—some of them, at all events. Some of them had admitted that there might be danger in that direction. One hon. Member—the Member for Cardiff—had said it was highly probable, judging from the methods and spirit which animated many of the Irish Members, that the Irish Legislature would pass laws which would be very painful and objectionable to the Imperial Government. He (Mr. Butcher) agreed with the hon. Member; and he thought the best safeguard was to have the measures submitted for consideration before becoming law. The President of the Local Government Board (Mr. H. H. Fowler) had before now said that it was not improbable the Irish Legislature 1134 would pass foolish measures. That was a statement in which many hon. Members, he was sure, would be inclined to join with the right hon. Gentleman. He said, therefore, that on this question, at least, the Government ought to give way. They had had the assurance again and again, that in the event of some law being passed which the Irish Legislature ought not to pass, the veto would be sufficient to meet the case. He would simply remind the House of the remarkable speech of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board. On Clause 2, on the question of the veto, he said there must be an effective supremacy of the Imperial Parliament; and he went on to point out that one of the modes of upholding that supremacy was through the machinery of the Imperial veto. And he said, further, that if a Bill of an oppressive or unjust character were passed by the Irish Legislature, the present Bill laid down the duty of the Lord Lieutenant to refuse the assent of the Crown, on instructions from the Crown, acting on the advice of the Imperial Cabinet.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. H. H. FOWLER,) Wolverhampton, E.
Quote the passage fully.
§ *MR. BUTCHER
said, he had not the whole quotation here. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that foolish legislation might be passed, and that it would be a misfortune, but one with which the Imperial Parliament ought not to deal. In that he thought that House should not follow the right hon. Gentleman, if it was his opinion that in that case there would be no reason for the interference of the British Cabinet. Let him give another instance. In Committee they had a discussion as to the power of suspending the Habeas Corpus Act, and the Attorney General (Sir C. Russell) said that if the Irish Legislature were to hurry through a Bill suspending the Habeas Corpus Act when the circumstances of the time did not justify it, the Ministers of the Queen would be empowered to advise Her Majesty not to sanction the proceeding. Ministers would, no doubt, be so empowered, but, unless they accepted this Amendment, they would be empowered in theory but not in practice; and the Lord Lieutenant would be told by the Irish Ministry to give the assent which it would be the desire 1135 of the Imperial Government he should refuse. In these circumstances, seeing that it was possible the Irish Legislature might pass foolish and unjust Acts, seeing that the President of the Local Government Board had spoken in that sense, and that it was their desire to make this provision effective, they should, he thought, adopt this Amendment. All that was asked for by the Amendment was that some time should be allowed for the Imperial Government to consider a Bill before it finally passed into law. If this was not done, the veto, which the Government said should be effective, would become a delusion and a sham.
In page 4, line 3, after the word "Bill," to insert the words—"Provided that, except upon instructions given by Her Majesty, no such assent shall he given by the Lord Lieutenant until the expiration of 40 days after such Bills have been passed by the two Houses of the Irish Legislature."—(Mr. Butcher.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
MR. J. MORLEY
The hon. and learned Member bases his Amendment on the ground that the Irish Legislature is likely to do foolish things.
MR. J. MORLEY
He quoted my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board, but he did not toll us that my right hon. Friend drew a distinction between foolish things and what he called "bitter, unjust, and oppressive things"; and, of course, the Imperial Government would interfere in the case of oppressive or unjust legislation such as he imagined. I do not believe that the Irish Legislature is more likely to commit acts of folly than any other similar Body. But, even if I did believe it, it appears to me that if Legislatures are to be suppressed on the ground that they may do foolish things, or that they have done foolish things, I think the doors of this House of Commons would soon be closed, and those of another place would be closed still sooner. Yet that is what he founded his Amendment upon! His real motive we perfectly understand. The real object of the Amendment is to invite, by delay, the interference of the Imperial Parliament and the Imperial Government in Irish Bills and affairs, and, by so doing, to undo all that the Government hope to 1136 achieve by the passing of this Bill. Does he really mean that the Acts passed by an Irish Legislature should remain over in this manner? Take an ordinary case—that of a Cholera Bill. Does he really mean that such a Bill should remain for 40 days? Or take the Appropriation Act. Does the hon. Member say that that is to remain for 40 days standing over?
MR. J. MORLEY
My objection is that the proposal is entirely unnecessary in these days of post and telegraph. Neither the Lord Lieutenant nor the English Cabinet would want 40 days to turn over in their minds Bills they would know everything about. The hon. Member has given no kind of reason for this Amendment, except a reason which cuts at the root of the whole Bill.
§ MR. ROSS (Londonderry)
said, it was rather a fine distinction that the Chief Secretary had drawn between foolish acts and unjust and oppressive acts. As a general rule, a foolish act would be found to be unjust and oppressive to someone. When the right hon. Gentleman came to put his fine distinction into operation he would find it much more difficult than he imagined. The right hon. Gentleman said it would not take 40 days to find out about these things; but was that so? There would be no direct communication between the Lord Lieutenant and the Home Government; and it would, therefore, take some time to get the necessary information. The Central Authority would be left to the ordinary sources of information—that was to say the newspapers—to make themselves acquainted with what was going on in Ireland. With regard to these matters, then, it would be of advantage to give a little time. The Chief Secretary said that emergencies might occur, in which case it would be very inconvenient to wait 40 days; but express provision was made for that in the Amendment; besides, the occurrence of an emergency would be a thing which would be well known at home. Anything like a Cholera Bill the Home Government would be prepared to assent to at once. But why should not the people of Ulster have an opportunity of bringing before England the fact that an oppressive and unjust Bill was about to be passed so that the Lord 1137 Lieutenant might be prevented from giving his assent to it? No one could say what disorder might not result from resistance to an unjust law. The adoption of such an Amendment as that before the House, however, would tend to the smooth working of the Act, and give a reasonable time to the minority in Ireland, either by agitation or direct communication with the Central Authorities, to point out that some law was being passed which they considered unjust.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, this Amendment was another attempt to reduce to some kind of order the chaotic condition in which the Bill was left with regard to the Lord Lieutenant. During the consideration of the last Amendment they had endeavoured to find out whether the clause carried out the views of the Government, and whether the Lord Lieutenant should have power to veto the Bill without consulting anyone, or to choose whom he should consult; but the Government never deigned to answer their arguments. Perhaps they deemed that it mattered little in what condition they left the Bill. Under the circumstances, he did not think it was worth while to go to a Division. Nor was it worth while to press the Government to explain their views, or to modify their Bill in accordance with the efforts of the Opposition to reduce chaos to order.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ *MR. GERALD BALFOUR (Leeds, Central)
said, he rose to move an Amendment which consisted of two provisos; these provisos were quite independent the one of the other, and he proposed to move them separately. Under the first proviso it would be lawful for the Lord Lieutenant, in pursuance of instructions from Her Majesty, to veto particular portions of an Appropriation Bill. The object was not so much to enable the Lord Lieutenant to veto particular money items in such Bills, as to enable him to meet the possible case of an Irish Parliament passing an Appropriation Bill with a rider attached, and thereby compelling the Lord Lieutenant either to accept this rider, which might be of a most objectionable character, or else to take the step of vetoing the Bill, with the effect of throwing the whole work of administration into confusion by withholding the necessary supplies from the Executive Government. The practice of 1138 tacking riders dealing with general legislation to Appropriation Bills would be generally condemned by the House, and the only question arising was this—was it likely the Irish Parliament would have recourse to this device? The experience of the United States was a guide, and that experience went to show that the apprehension was by no means chimerical. Within the last 50 years the device of tacking riders to Appropriation Bills had been used in the United States by the Senate to coerce the House of Representatives, by the House of Representatives to coerce the Senate, and by both Houses (by Congress) to coerce the President. The last cases were, of course, most in point in the discussion of this proviso. Twice within the last 30 years had attempts been made by Congress to coerce the President by attaching pieces of general legislation to Appropriation Bills. In 1867 it was successfully attempted by Congress against President Johnson, when Congress tacked on to the Army Appropriation Bill a provision investing General Grant with the supreme command of the Army. Again, in 1879, the attempt was made against President Hayes, who had resisted certain legislative proposals which had reference to the Southern States. Congress thereupon attached to the Army Appropriation Bill, and to two other Appropriation Bills, the proposals which had been previously rejected, endeavouring in this way to force the President to acquiesce. In that case the President was strong enough to veto the Appropriation Bill, and Congress was obliged to yield. On that occasion President Hayes's veto message, according to the work of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, argued strongly against the whole practice of tacking other legislation to a Money Bill, and, concerning this practice, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bryce) adds that—It has caused great abuse, and is now prevented by the Constitution of many States.Of course, it might be argued that, although the experience of the United States undoubtedly did show that resort to this device was not impossible, yet in this country we had had no experience of the kind; and why, therefore, should we anticipate it would be the source of trouble in Ireland? The two cases were entirely different. In the United Kingdom the position of the Sovereign under the Imperial Constitution was 1139 entirely different to what would be the position of the Lord Lieutenant under the Bill. The Sovereign acted on the advice of a single Cabinet, responsible to Parliament, with the result that in this country the veto of the Crown had practically ceased to exist. When the veto was exercised only on the advice of the Ministry who were responsible to Parliament, no necessity for exercising it could arise. But the position of the Lord Lieutenant would be quite different. He would have to act on the advice not only of the Irish Executive Committee, but also of the Imperial Cabinet. He would have to serve two masters. So far as the Lord Lieutenant acted on the advice of the Irish Executive Council the veto power would be as extinct in Ireland as it was in this country, and it would only become operative when exercised on the advice of the Imperial Ministry. When the Lord Lieutenant vetoed a Bill on the advice of the Imperial Government he obviously would exercise the power in opposition to the Irish Parliament and Executive; and therefore it might be accepted as certain that if the veto were ever employed, it would certainly be resented by the Irish Advisers of the Lord Lieutenant, and, being so resented, it would be probable that the Irish Executive would take whatever means they had in their power to evade the veto. To take an illustration. Suppose the Irish Parliament and Ministers desired to pass a Bill to suspend trial by jury in Ulster, and that the Lord Lieutenant, acting on the advice of the Imperial Government, vetoed the Bill. The Irish Parliament and Government might, in order to coerce the Lord Lieutenant, tack the operative clauses of such a Bill on to an Appropriation Bill, and under such circumstances the Lord Lieutenant would be exactly in the dilemma described. He would have to accept the Bill with its objectionable rider, or he must face the alternative of depriving the Irish Executive of necessary funds, and thereby throwing the administration into confusion. There was no doubt this device might be resorted to, and lead to serious difficulties in Ireland. Everything turned on the reality of the veto. Her Majesty's Government professed their intention that the veto should be real and operative, and if they were sincere they ought not to leave to the 1140 Irish Legislature the power of resorting to this simplest of all methods for rendering the veto inoperative.
In page 4, line 3, after the word "Bill," to insert the words—"Provided that, in case of Bills for appropriating any part of the public revenue, it shall be lawful for the Lord Lieutenant, in pursuance of instructions given by Her Majesty, to give or withhold the assent of Her Majesty to particular provisions of such Bills."—(Mr. Gerald Balfour.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I am very sorry that the hon. Member has found it necessary to renew the subject.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
It was discussed on the 6th July, and I am extremely sorry to have to inflict on the House a repetition of what I said before. I am not assuming that the matter is now raised in precisely the same terms; but the arguments and the substance are the same as before, just as they have been in nine-tenths of the discussions of the last few days. With respect to tacking, it is not altogether easy to define. What is meant by tacking? If it is the combination in one Bill of a number of provisions which have been customarily dealt with on a number of Bills with a view to shut out the discretion of the other branch of the Legislature by that combination, the House of Commons made a most effectual tack in 1861, when it entirely departed from the former practice of passing Money and Tax Bills one by one and sending them to the House of Lords one by one. In 1861 we advisedly and deliberately adopted the practice of combining them all in one Bill for the purpose of excluding discussion in the House of Lords. It was a very grand instance and most important in its results, for it virtually extinguished the whole legislative function of the House of Lords as to finance. Supposing such a case as that were to occur between the two Chambers in Ire-laud, it would be in the power of the Viceroy, under the proposed Amendment, entirely to frustrate the effort of the popular Chamber to defend its own privileges, because he might strike 1141 out such items as he thought fit from the Appropriation Bills, and thereby compel the Lower Chamber to send them up as separate Bills, and so deprive the popular Chamber of its only effective remedy against the interference of the other Chamber in financial matters. Now, it appears to me that that, of itself, is a vital and fatal objection to the Amendment. It will be seen that under the power given by the Amendment the great measure adopted in self-defence by the House of Commons against the House of Lords in 1861 might have been entirely frustrated by the Crown. The hon. Member said that powers analogous to these are in operation in certain States of America. No doubt he is right, but we cannot safely copy particular provisions from the legislative systems of foreign countries without considering the differences between their system and ours. [Cheers.] I am obliged for that expression of assent, and hope I shall have a renewal of it when I explain what I mean. The case of the United States is totally and fundamentally different from the case we have before us. Here we have on one side two Chambers, one being the taxing Chamber, and on the other side the Viceroy. In the States of the United States on the one side stands the Legislative Body and on the other the Governor, also elected by the people.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
In a totally different sense. It has not been elected by the people for this purpose. There have been in this country Cabinets that have lasted for 10, 15, or 20 years. The Cabinet comes in existence through the national will, but by a totally different machinery having no direct relation to the people. It is consistent in the American States that they should have these two organs, both coming from the people, in the same way, for a limited time, and should set one to correct the other. But it is really different, when one organ comes by remote and intermediate delegation from the people, to give that organ authority over another directly elected by the people and chosen for a particular purpose. Will the hon. Member give that power to the Crown in this country?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for that candid concession. The hon. Member would have no objection to enact that the Crown in this country, on receiving an Appropriation Bill, may strike out all such items as it pleases.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Oh, certainly; but the hon. Member would have no objection to undo what was done in 1861, and to restore to the House of Lords power over the House of Commons. Why is that to be done? In my opinion this would be a most serious invasion of the legitimate power of the Representatives of the people, whose first duty it is to have control over the taxation of the people. This is a matter with which the hon. Member says he does not wish the Viceroy to interfere. Having regard to the practice of tacking, it is dangerous to deal with the subject by legislation; it is far better to leave the question to the practical working of our institutions, and to the influence of legitimate public opinion upon them. It is the business of the Irish Executive to adjust their views to those of the Legislature while Bills are passing through the Chambers; that is the Constitutional system as it works all over the world. The case of the United States, where an elected Governor is placed in opposition to an elected Chamber, is totally irrelevant.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I have often listened with astonishment to the replies which are thought adequate by Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench to Amendments moved in all seriousness in this House; but I confess that my feeling of astonishment never grew to greater heights than during the speech which we have just heard. In the first place, the right hon. Gentleman said that this Amendment was exactly like nine-tenths of the Amendments we have been discussing for many weeks.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I was not aware that the right hon. Gentleman said that; but, of course, I accept it from him. But this is not a repetition. I asked a friend, while the right hon. Gentle- 1143 man was speaking, to fetch me the volume of The Parliamentary Debates that deals with the question; and, although I have only been able to glance at it, it is perfectly clear to me that the Debate which took place in Committee, and has been alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman, was not analogous and did not deal with the same matter as this, while this certainly is not a repetition of it. The Amendment to which the right hon. Gentleman refers was moved in Committee by my noble Friend the Member for Rochester (Viscount Cranborne). That Amendment undoubtedly proposed that the Lord Lieutenant should have the power of vetoing portions of Bills. The noble Lord, however, never once in his speech, as far as I have been able to read it, touched upon the question of Money Bills or tacking. The right hon. Gentleman who replied to him did not touch on that question either. When one of my friends suggested that it was a case in which the Irish Legislature might deal with portions of Money Bills he was reproached by the Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Bryce) for having dragged in Money Bills. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bryce) said—The present Amendment does not refer to Appropriation Bills, but to a different matter altogether, and there are very material differences.Well, in the face of that the right hon. Gentleman got up and reproached us with having raised again on Report a question which had been settled in Committee. [Mr. W. E. Gladstone: Hear, hear!] Well, the right hon. Gentleman must settle these differences of opinion with his Colleague. I will pass by the most unjust, and I had almost said improper, tones levelled by the light hon. Gentleman at us across the Table, and will come to the substance of his reply. The right hon. Gentleman went back to certain incidents which occurred in this House in 1861, and said that this House, in order to prevent the House of Lords having any legislative jurisdiction over questions of taxation, adopted a new method of arranging its Money Bills. I have two observations to make on that point. The first is that the arrangement of Money Bills cannot be described as tacking. The right hon. Gentleman said truly enough that it might be difficult to define tacking; but it is certain that a mere Consolidating Money Bill in the 1144 House of Lords is not tacking. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to think, in spite of what fell from my hon. Friend, that he had in view some kind of dispute that was likely to arise between the Lower and the Upper House—if upper and lower are proper terms in which to describe these two Chambers—with regard to Money Bills. My hon. Friend was not dealing with disputes between the two Houses, and he distinctly said so. Therefore, the analogy of anything that occurs between this House and the House of Lords, even had it been relevant to the discussion, which it was not, would have been quite outside the particular kind of danger my hon. Friend desires to guard against. The right hon. Gentleman said the Viceroy might take advantage of this clause to interfere between the two Houses and to involve the Upper House in a contest with the Lower House. Whenever we suggest that the Viceroy would take action of this kind we are asked why we should suppose that the Viceroy would be so idiotic, and only this evening the hon. Member for North Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy) made a vehement speech on this attractive subject. The right hon. Gentleman supposes that the Viceroy, acting with the advice of an. Irish Administration, dependent as it must be upon the will of the Lower House, will interfere in some quarrel between the Lower and the Upper House in order to sacrifice the legitimate rights of the Lower House to the privileged Upper Chamber which is proposed to be created by the 6th clause. The right hon. Gentleman lost sight of what I think is really the most important portion, of this question. He has told us over and over again that the veto is to be a reality. He has told us that protection to minorities is to consist in the exercise of the veto by the Lord Lieutenant in necessary cases on the advice of the British Administration. If the Lord Lieutenant is to be controlled in the exercise of the veto by this practice of tacking, what becomes of the veto as the safeguard of the minority or of the popular interests? We want to know how the veto can be a reality if you admit tacking to its fullest extent? The Irish Executive, I will assume for the sake of argument, bring in a Money Bill and tack on to it some administrative proposal of an iniquitous cha- 1145 racter, oppressive to the minority in Ireland or destructive of some Imperial interest. The Lord Lieutenant will be incapable of exercising the veto on that Bill without disorganising the whole administration of the country and stopping Supply. Is that fair; is that what you want; is that what you call having an effective veto? My hon. Friend behind me does not propose by this Amendment to deal with the Upper Chamber in Ireland as against the Lower Chamber. What he proposes to do is to leave the Lord Lieutenant free, if he chooses to take the advice of the British Ministry, to veto the obnoxious part of the Bill without throwing the whole of the Public Service of Ireland into absolute disorganisation. With interest and astonishment I listened to the statement of die right hon. Gentleman, repeated three times in the course of his speech, that the principal functions of the Lower Chamber in Ireland would be to impose taxation. That is an entirely new view of the functions of that Chamber thrown before us at the very last stage of this Bill; and not only is it in direct contradiction to everything that has over fallen, either from the Government or the Irish Members before, but it appears to be in direct contradiction to the provisions of the Bill itself, because we have taken care that the one thing the Irish Government shall not do with facility is to impose taxation, almost every convenient method of extracting money from the Irish people having been sedulously reserved by this Bill to the British Government. What becomes of the functions of the Irish Representative Assembly under these circumstances? This is only an illustration of the strange vagaries the Government indulge in when they plunge into these interesting Constitutional questions. But the question I would put to the Member of the Government who deigns to reply in this Debate is, how can you keep an effective instrument in the hands of the British majority if you permit the Irish Government to tack on to any Bill money provisions which are necessary for carrying on the Public Service in Ireland? Perhaps, however, the Government may treat us again to the absolute silence which they resort to where argument fails them.
§ MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
said, he thought that the Prime Minister, in approaching the subject, had 1146 been too much influenced by his memories of the controversy over the Paper Duties in 1861. These memories bad led him to misunderstand the scope of the Amendment, and to confuse it with a proposition of a totally different character that was discussed in full. The Amendment dealt simply with Appropriation Bills, and was designed to enable the Viceroy, acting upon the advice of the Imperial Government, to prevent any spurious addition to the Appropriation Bill. It had nothing to do with the question, therefore, which was involved in the Paper Duties, and still less had it anything to do with the question whether the Viceroy might out of any Bill select provisions which were repugnant to him. There was no proposition involved which would destroy or interfere with the power of the Lower House. Unless, however, some such Amendment were accepted, the power would be placed in the hands of the Irish Legislature of evading the present limitation imposed upon their authority by preventing the vetoing of one of their proposals. This could be done by introducing into the Appropriation Bill provisions which were entirely foreign to that Bill. This was a question which had arisen in the United States and also in our Colonies. Not long ago it arose in one of the Australian Colonies owing to an attempt to put an end to a struggle respecting the payment of Members by inserting a provision for their payment into the Appropriation Bill. The Prime Minister was accurate in point of form, no doubt, when he said that the example derived from the United States was not applicable in this case, because the Governor of each State was elected by the citizens. This merely showed that there was, in the judgment of the Governor, something in the nature of a referendum by which the people might correct the action of the Legislature. In Great Britain the supreme authority was, and would be, representative not simply of the people of Ireland, but of the people of the United Kingdom; and the Ministers of the Crown were as much representative of the people as if they were directly elected. He thought the House ought to protest against the notion that the Ministers of the Crown were not the embodiment for the time being of the national will. They were as truly exponents of the national will as the 1147 Representative Chamber itself. The Government confessed that the Irish Legislature was to be a subordinate Legislature, and limitations had been placed upon its power. Methods were pointed out by which such limitations might be avoided. It was now proposed to prevent the evasion of the limitations by giving to the supreme authority the power of regulating and compelling observance of them. The case might be put very simply. The Legislature of Ireland might pass two Bills—an Appropriation Bill and another measure. The Appropriation Bill would be naturally within their rights, and would receive the assent of the Lord Lieutenant; the other might be directly in opposition to the limitations laid down, and would consequently be vetoed by the Lord Lieutenant. If the two Bills were joined together the supreme authority would be placed in the most difficult position of having to decide whether or not to exercise the veto in the composite Bill, and in consequence to throw the organisation and Government into confusion. It was desirable that this difficulty should be avoided. The Amendment proposed a final and satisfactory way of avoiding it, and he hoped it would be accepted.
§ MR. GOSCHEN (St. George's, Hanover Square)
It seems to me to be absolutely incredible that the Government should not think it necessary to reply to the arguments which have been put forward. At all events, we know that the bubble of the veto has been finally pricked. It has been shown how it is possible for the Irish Parliament to defeat the veto upon which the Government have hitherto relied. The argument of the Prime Minister did not deal with this portion of the case at all. It simply dealt with the general principle that the Lower Chamber in Ireland is specially constructed in order to impose taxation. That is the now view started by the right hon. Gentleman. The Prime Minister thinks that time is being wasted in discussing this Amendment, and he has taunted us with repetition. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be better coached on another occasion as to what has happened in previous Debates. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has shown that the question was specially exempted from Debate in Committee. Let the House realise the 1148 position in which we stand. When we attempt to debate this question we are told by the Prime Minister that it has been debated before.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The right hon. Gentleman heard the words of the Chancellor of the Duchy, and it has been shown that the Government has not hitherto condescended to reply to the point. The question is, whether the veto will not be thwarted by tacking Money Bills on to other measures? No answer whatever has been given by the Government; and unless we have an answer, we shall know that the Government avowedly are prepared to see the veto destroyed by moans of a loophole in the Bill, when it has been shown to them that, by accepting this Amendment or some similar Amendment, the veto could be preserved. We have always thought that the veto would be a sham, and the time spent in showing that it is a sham has certainly not been lost. It will not be regarded as lost by the electors of this country. I think that for the credit of the Government they ought to attempt to show us how they would provide for this difficulty.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE DUCHY OF LANCASTER (Mr. BRYCE,) Aberdeen, S.
My impression is that the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down is wrong in his recollection of the point; for it contained other matters, which were the main subject of debate. Although it is quite true that the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for Rochester (Viscount Cranborne) was not the same as this Amendment, the question which arises on this Amendment was brought up in that Debate first by the Member for Leeds (Mr. Gerald Balfour), and then by the right hon. Gentleman, upon the noble Lord's Amendment. Therefore, my right hon. Friend (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) was quite justified in stating that this is not altogether in substance, but to a considerable extent, the same question as arose before. More than that he has not said. I come now to the Amendment itself. The stress of the argument of the Opposition rests upon their allegation that without this Amendment the veto will be useless. I have two replies to make to that argument. The first is that the 1149 veto will be used, if a sufficiently grave case arises, whether there be an attempt to "tack" or not. The fact that an attempt has been made to defeat the veto by tacking will not prevent the veto being used. The other argument bears more fully on the case, which has been made in supposing a serious crisis. If a Constitutional crisis of the kind were to arise; if the Irish Legislature wore to try to carry a measure which is objectionable and likely to incur the veto by tacking to it an Appropriation Bill, that proposal would necessarily have to be seriously considered long before it reached the stage of being presented as a complete Bill to the Viceroy. It would be impossible, in the sort of crisis supposed, for the Viceroy not to know what was passing, or for his attention not to be called to the serious gravity of the case. It would be his duty at an early stage of the matter to call the attention of his Executive to the necessary results of their action, and in an extreme case to ask the advice of the Imperial Cabinet. If right hon. Gentlemen opposite display illimitable imagination in debating every possible kind of disposition on the part of the Irish Legislature to provoke conflict, and to attempt unreasonable things—and they are no doubt justified in making use of such imagination for the purposes of hypothetical argument, however improbable the case may be—but if what they suggest really happened, it would not be necessary to meet it with the veto, because it would be the duty of the Lord Lieutenant to nip it at an earlier stage. [Opposition cries of "How?"] By telling his Government he would not be a party to it, and by warning them of the consequences that must result if they persist in their course. I will put another point. This Amendment is designed to meet one case only—namely, the case of the Irish Legislature trying to effect their purpose by tacking. That is not the only way by which the Irish Legislature, if they were bent on carrying a measure, might proceed, and the hon. Member for Leeds is endeavouring to shut one door while he is leaving another, and a much wider one, open. There is no particular use in endeavouring to meet a difficulty of this kind, which would involve a Constitutional crisis of the gravest nature, 1150 by a particular Amendment directed against one particular form of action, when you leave it perfectly open to the Irish Legislature to attempt to gain the same end in another way, which would be even easier. I will ask the House to consider what the broad effect of this Amendment would be. The Amendment is in substance an attempt to impose upon the Imperial Cabinet the duty of a partial veto in certain cases of Money Bills, in regard to which the function of the popular House of the Legislature is especially sacred, because it is from the popular House of the Legislature that Money Bills proceed, and in respect of which the vetoing authority is only in a remote sense responsible to the Irish people. The Prime Minister observed, in answer to the argument which the hon. Member drew from the experience of the United States, that in the United States the Governor of a State, who is in some States permitted to veto particular items, is himself the creation of the popular will, and that it is perfectly open to the people, if they so choose, to devolve upon the creature of their own will the duty of controlling, oven in a matter so eminently the function of the people as the voting of money, the exercise of that right. After all, such a veto is the act of the people, through their Representative, just as much as the act of the Legislature is the act of the people. Here the Imperial Cabinet, on whom the hon. Member seeks to devolve the veto, is responsible to the Irish people only in the proportion which the 80 Representatives of the Irish people bear to the total number of Members in the House. I might illustrate the results of this Amendment by remarking that they would resemble what would happen in the United States if the duty of vetoing pairs of a State Appropriation Bill, passed for the State by its own Legislature, devolved not on the Governor of the State, but on the President of the United States, who, of course, is the choice of the people of the particular State in so remote a degree that he could not be regarded as practically responsible to them. We regard this proposal as one to some extent superfluous, and to some extent impracticable. We regard it as opposed to the traditions of British Constitutional Government which we desire to implant in Ireland, as likely to create friction 1151 between the people of Ireland and the Imperial Government, and as calculated to interfere with the fair working of the system of machinery on which we desire the Irish Government to proceed.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
I think the speech we have just listened to amply justifies the gentle pressure put upon the Government with the object of inducing them to give another reply. We should have missed a most useful lesson on the new Irish Constitution had we failed to enjoy the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. Before I deal with the arguments of that speech I must put my right hon. Friend right on a question of memory. He says the Prime Minister was perfectly right in saying that this Amendment was substantially the same as one discussed in Committee on the proposition of the noble Lord the Member for Rochester (Viscount Cranborne). What did the Chancellor of the Duchy himself say about the Amendment of the noble Lord at the time when it was the subject of discussion? On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman said—"An Appropriation Bill is a totally different matter." He was dealing with the Amendment of the noble Lord, and he put aside the question of the Appropriation Bill as raising a new and distinct argument on the subject. I would remind the Chancellor of the Duchy that on that occasion, while most strenuously expressing disapproval of the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for Rochester on the ground that it dealt with Bills other than Appropriation Bills, he expressed his approval of it when applied to Appropriation Bills.
§ *MR. BRYCE
I did not express my approval. I said there were certain merits, but I did not argue it.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I think the right hon. Gentleman should read his speech before he makes that correction. He said—The President, when it comes up to him, might well be authorised to disallow that particular item, but to give his assent to all the rest of the Bill; and no harm would be done by that course being adopted, because in an Appropriation Bill each clause stands on its own bottom.
§ *MR. BRYCE
That argument referred to the United States. I never admitted that the case of the United States was parallel to that of Ireland.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Why did the right hon. Gentleman state his approval in the case of the United States of a proposal to deal with the clauses of an Appropriation Bill separately in an argument bearing upon an English Amendment on an Irish Bill? No; I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Duchy to read carefully his own speech. His argument now is—"You propose to deal with this matter in a manner which is altogether wrong—in a manner which has not been adopted in America. In America they have only dealt with Appropriation Bills." Of course, in making that argument he meant to say—"If you had proposed to deal with it here on Appropriation Bills alone, you would have been perfectly justified." The right hon. Gentleman now finds that that argument will not suit his present purpose. This Debate, even when we approach an incident which is likely to occur about 11 o'clock to-night, has not lost its interest. It will, in fact always be memorable in laying before us thus late new ideas of the Government in regard to their own Bill. What does the Chancellor of the Duchy say in his own book? He approves of a proviso in the Constitution, which provides in Article 1, Section 7—The President is permitted to vote any particular item or items in an Appropriation Bill.And the right hon. Gentleman's comment on that passage is—Of these changes the third—the one just read to the House—and fifth were obvious improvements.Now we have got it that it is an obvious improvement to any Constitution that the President or the Governor of a State should be allowed to deal with a tack to an Appropriation Bill. "But," said the Chancellor of the Duchy, "that is quite different in this Constitution, because in our Constitution the person who would have to interfere represents the Imperial Parliament," and the Imperial Parliament, of course, does not represent the people. That is an interference with the legislative freedom of the Irish Parliament. Yes, Sir; under those circumstances, what is the veto? Here is this precious Constitution, which is to preserve the legislative freedom of the Irish Parliament, and it gives us a veto which 1153 the Prime Minister tells us is a real and efficient instrument against any abuse of its power by the Irish Parliament. "Oh, but," says the Chancellor of the Duchy, "to make that veto efficient would be to interfere with popular freedom and the liberties of the Irish people." Here is a confession from the Chancellor of the Duchy that the veto was always intended to be a sham. We know that the Chief Secretary meant it to be a Court-sword; but the Chancellor of the Duchy means it to be a scabbard without a sword at all. The Chancellor of the Duchy goes on to deal with the suggestion that, if the Irish Parliament were allowed to tack obnoxious or illegal Bills to an Appropriation Hill, it would be very difficult to exercise the veto. He says—"Oh, but our right and our power of interference would begin much earlier than that." This is another most interesting aperçu on the Constitutional position of the Irish Parliament which the House has never heard before. What is going to happen, according to the Chancellor of the Duchy? The Lord Lieutenant is going to watch every Bill, Resolution, and Act of the Irish Parliament; and the moment he, on his own discretion, thinks that the ultra vires provision is verged upon, or that it is a kind of Act to which the Imperial Government will be likely to object, or that the Resolution or Bill is such as the veto can by any possibility be applied to, he is to send for his Irish Ministers, and to say—"Look here, my fine fellows, do not waste your time in discussing this, for I have the veto in my pocket, and I shall have to apply it. You must alter the Bill in such and such a way—if you do not do so, bear in mind the whole of your time will be thrown away." Now, can the House conceive of anything more ridiculous than the Constitution conjured up by the Constitutional imagination of the Chancellor of the Duchy? We have always thought that the position of the Lord Lieutenant would, indeed, be very difficult and delicate, and occasionally very painful. But what would be the position of the Lord Lieutenant if this was to be one of his functions, and if on every occasion he was to be interfering with and advising his Irish Executive, and also threatening them with regard to almost every measure they introduced that if they did this or that he would, 1154 later on, have to exercise the veto? Then the Chancellor of the Duchy makes one other observation. He says as an objection to the Amendment—"It is quite true that by the means you have suggested this Irish Legislature might evade all the precautious we have taken in our Bill, and all the safeguards adopted for the benefit of the Loyalist minority, which we have again and again assured you would be sufficient for the purpose. But why should you bother about that? There are lots of other ways in which they could be evaded." "While I have been on my feet," said the Chancellor of the Duchy, "I have thought of one." Accordingly the right hon. Gentleman makes us a present of another way in which these safeguards can be evaded. Was there ever such a confession of impotent statesmanship as that which has been made by the Chancellor of the Duchy? I go back for a moment to the argument of the Prime Minister; I will not say much about that, because it was evidently brought forward in complete misapprehension of the moaning of the Amendment which it criticised. The right hon. Gentleman conjured up a hypothetical case, in which he supposed the Upper and the Lower Chambers—I think, considering the constitution of these two Chambers, we might say "the Lower and the Lowest Chambers"—to be in strenuous conflict. A case of that kind is hardly likely to arise. The Government have taken precautions. They have arranged that the electorate of one Chamber shall be, at all events, of the same character as the electorate of the other; and there is no reason to believe that the two Chambers will on any important question have even the slightest family dissension. "But suppose that is the case," said the right hon. Gentleman, "and suppose that the Lower Chamber is endeavouring to make good its great Constitutional right, and in order to promote its views, it tacks some Bill or other on to a Money Bill"—well, even in that event, why on earth should the Lord Lieutenant interfere? Is that a case in which, under any conceivable circumstances, the Lord Lieutenant would be interested in interfering? We are dealing with the Lord Lieutenant now as representing Imperial interests, or, at any rate, those local interests which it is the duty of the Imperial Parliament to protect. 1155 The Lord Lieutenant in that capacity will not want to disallow provisions in an Appropriation Bill if it only involves a domestic quarrel between the two Chambers, and does not raise any question of oppression to the minority, or dishonesty, or anything injurious to the interests of the British Parliament. In all these cases the Lord Lieutenant would have no ground whatever, for interference, and it was perfectly certain that he would not interfere. The only case in which the Opposition desire to reserve the interference of the Lord Lieutenant is the case in which the Irish Parliament has brought in a Bill which is either beyond their powers, or held to be by the Imperial Parliament oppressive and unjust; and, knowing that it will most likely be vetoed by the British Government, has tacked it on to an Appropriation Bill. It has been clearly pointed out that in that case we shall be under a great disadvantage. Unless the proposal of the Irish Government is of such a character that we must take any risk rather than allow it to pass into law, the probability is that the Imperial Government will wink at it and allow the irregularity to take place. But if the proposal is so serious that the Imperial Government finds itself obliged to deal with it, then the greatest possible inconvenience will arise, and the irritation necessary to the exercise of the veto under any circumstances will be greatly increased. It will surely be to the convenience and advantage of the Irish people, as well as of the British, if the Lord Lieutenant has the right to veto those parts of a measure of which he disapproves without including all those parts to which no objection is taken. In sitting down I would take note of a remark which the Prime Minister has several times repeated, to the effect that the Irish Lower House would find its highest and most important functions in dealing with the taxation of the people. Well, I suppose I am justified in believing that that goes further than the Irish Parliament, and applies to all other popular Representative Assemblies. Under those circumstances, I am quite sure that the Prime Minister can be counted on as one who, when the House of Commons comes, as it will shortly coins, to its most important function—
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! I must ask the hon. Member not to interrupt. The House knows what these interruptions sometimes lead to.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I will only finish my sentence. When the House comes to deal with Supply, I hope there will be no interference with the fullest discussion on the part of the Prime Minister.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
ventured to intrude in this Debate for a few moments in order to say a farewell word about what he considered was perhaps the greatest of the many shams which had distinguished this Bill. The proposal to give the Lord Lieutenant and his veto as a protection to the Irish minority had always been looked upon by the minority with whom he acted as a worthless provision. He did not believe the Lord Lieutenant would be even ornamental, and certainly not useful. They would first of all—and perhaps this would be one of the difficulties of the situation—have to get a Lord Lieutenant, and he ventured to say that one of the difficulties would be to get, a British gentleman to consent to occupy the post. He concluded that the gentleman who would be asked to fill the post of Lord Lieutenant, and to act in that grave capacity in Ireland, would ask the Government of the day what his functions would consist of, and what his duties would be. Under the Bill as at present drawn it appeared to him that the ostensible object of the Lord Lieutenant would be to keep in order the Irish Parliament. He would ask the House to conceive for one moment the task that would be placed before any gentleman who would be asked, for instance, to keep in order the hon. Member for North Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy). How would he ever be able to keep the hon. Member for Louth in order except by the permission of the hon. Member, or to keep the hon. Member's friends in order except by their permission.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
said, he was very glad of that. The Prime Minister, in his speech, as he generally did, asked why should they have any doubts about the good sense and fair play, and the desire to act with impartial justice, of this Irish Assembly. Well, the Irish Assembly would be composed of men—whom they could not exactly say, as they could not foretell the future; but they knew who the leaders would be. They would be the same parties who were now acting so harmoniously below the Gangway—the Party elected entirely by the Roman Catholic priests, and that advanced section which was led by the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. J. E. Redmond), whose policy had been described by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as a Fenian policy. Those were the two Parties which would exist in the future Irish Chamber, and they were not influenced in estimating their future conduct by any effort of their imagination; they judged what they would do, what they would say, and how they would do it and say it, by what they had said and done in the past. That was a fair way of estimating and judging the functions of the National Assembly, which would be composed of men who had described in large letters their intentions in the future when they had the power to carry them out. If the Lord Lieutenant of the future was really meant to be anything but a sham he would be given very considerable powers to act on his own responsibility in restraining the action of this Irish Assembly, which would undoubtedly be actuated by the desires and by the motives of the men who had led a certain section of the Irish people during the past few years. The Lord Lieutenant, if they could ever get an English gentleman to take the post—a thing which ho doubted very much—would have to place himself under the supreme authority and guidance of the hon. Member for North Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy). To get such a man they would have to create a Peer from someone on the Government Bench opposite who was accustomed to that degradation.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
I must remind the hon. Member that the Amendment is a 1158 specific one, and he must address himself to it.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
bowed to the Speaker's decision, and would imagine the Lord Lieutenant existed—about which, however, he was extremely doubtful—and that it would be his duty to examine whether any tack was made on an Appropriation Bill which was contrary to his ideas of right and justice. That was really the point. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister in his speech entirely misunderstood the drift of the Amendment and the arguments of supporters of it. The Prime Minister had made some 245 speeches during the progress of the Bill and had spoken for some 90 hours, and therefore he, no doubt, got "mixed" up. But passing from the Prime Minister, who got "mixed" up, and coining to the Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Bryce), who thought he knew what he was talking about but never did, they had some very remarkable statements from him. This Lord Lieutenant was supposed to be his (Colonel Saunderson's) special protector; and if anything was tacked on to an Appropriation Bill for the spoliation of Ulster or to squeeze the landlords like lemons—which was the policy of the hon. Member for North Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy)—his protector would have to see if he could not modify the asperity of these particular movements. [An hon. MEMBER: They would be sold out before them.] Yes; but they would never be paid. That was the method—the simple method—which they stated they intended to put in force when they got the opportunity. This Lord Lieutenant, if they could get one, would have the duty of protecting the minority; and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Bryce) said it was no use bringing in this proviso, as there were other doors in this draughty Assembly by which the ingenuity of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway could escape from any proviso they chose to place in their Bill. He quite agreed with the right hon. Gentleman; but the right hon. Gentleman went on to say the Lord Lieutenant could arrest any attempt on the part of the Irish Assembly to pass unjust legislation. The right hon. Gentleman, however, did not tell them how, and he was taken up by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bir- 1159 mingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain); but he (Colonel Saunderson) did not think the Member for West Birmingham really took the lesson from that speech that he ought to have taken. When the Chancellor of the Duchy told them that flattering tale of the future success of an Irish Lord Lieutenant he was letting the cat out of the bag as to the methods they intended to adopt in the constituencies before the next General Election. They would tell the constituencies that the Irish minority were amply protected; that there was no necessity for putting anything more particular or definite in the Bill, because the Lord Lieutenant, if anything went wrong in this low and lower House, would be able to arrest it; he would be able to tell them to stop, and prevent it coming to a head. The right hon. Gentleman would tell his constituents there was ample protection afforded in the Bill, and there would be no one to take him up; but in this House the right hon. Gentleman was taken up. He should like to know from his hon. and learned Friend opposite how the Lord Lieutenant under this Bill would be able, outside the clauses of the Bill, to go down proprio motu and arrest the Irish Assembly in a course he might rightly believe to be contrary to justice, and in a direction which this House would absolutely refuse to accept or to justify? It would be absolutely impossible that he could do so, though it might, pass muster upon hundreds of Radical platforms. How, he wanted to know, was it to be carried out? How were they, the Irish minority, going to derive any satisfaction from the promise of the Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Bryce) that in case the Irish Legislative Assembly, which would be a Home Rule Assembly, a Laud League Government and a Land League Parliament, acted contrary to the intentions of the Bill, they were to be arrested by some innocent Lord Lieutenant going over to Ireland? Even if they found the man, he did not know how this future Irish Legislature was to be arrested in any violent action which they were bound to take up according to their promises to the Irish people. Was the Lord Lieutenant to send the Usher of the Black Rod to the Irish House to tell them to stop? How was he to address the Assembly? If he did do so, he would find 1160 it the worst Assembly he ever saw in his life. The protection which the Lord Lieutenant was supposed to afford to the loyal minority by influencing the future Irish House of Commons was a figment of the imagination of the Prime Minister introduced into the Bill to gull and delude the British people into the idea that the Bill did supply to the Irish minority some authority on which they could hang their hopes in the future. He (Colonel Saunderson) denied that the Lord Lieutenant and his veto was any protection. So far as he was concerned, and so far as those for whom he spoke were concerned, he could only say they might sweep away the Lord Lieutenant and his veto, and they would dislike and hate the Bill, and seek to overturn it, as much then as they did now.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the hon. and gallant Gentleman who was always more interesting than instructive, or—to use his own phrase—more ornamental than useful, had given them another of the many proofs he had afforded of his ability on any occasion to deliver an animated speech which had no relation to the subject. The hon. and gallant Gentleman was about as consistent as usual, for whilst in one part of his speech he said he doubted whether they could find a Lord Lieutenant at all, at another point he said he might be swept away. The hon. and gallant Gentleman did not study the matter in debate. He (Mr. Sexton) did not think he had read the Bill.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, in that case he had forgotten it, because if ho had read the first paragraph of Clause 21, three lines which would not tax even the terrible memory of an Irish landlord, he would have found that every subject of the Queen "shall be qualified to fill the office of Lord Lieutenant." The hon. and gallant Gentleman doubted whether they would find an English gentleman. They need not necessarily find an English gentleman. If they were driven to an extremity and found it hard to get an English gentleman, there were many Irish gentlemen who would gladly take the office, for ho never heard of an Irish landlord who refused £20,000. The hon. and gallant Gentleman suggested, on the question of the Irish landlords, that if they sold their land they would not get the price for it. Well, 1161 they had the experience of the past before them, and no Irish landlord had yet sold his land without getting an excellent price for it. Perhaps they had better come to the Amendment. He doubted if the hon. and gallant Gentleman said anything which was capable of being made the subject of debate. No one hearing the animated declamation of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham and other hon. Gentlemen, and the salvoes of cheers and laughter with which their speeches were greeted, would think that this was a proposal to apply to the Legislature of Ireland a provision which was utterly unknown to the British Constitution. It was unknown here. The Sovereign here, even if the veto was revived, could not say "yes" to one part of an Appropriation Act and "no" to another part. The veto was an indivisible power, and the Representative of the Sovereign must gay "yes" or "no" to the whole Bill, and could not divide the Bill into parts, one part of which might be passed into law and the other part rejected. In the three or four score years that had elapsed since Parliaments were established in other parts of the Empire, this question might have arisen. He did not know whether or not it had. Local Parliaments might have endeavoured to tack on to an Appropriation Hill and to force upon the Representative of the Crown provisions which would otherwise be vetoed. If such a case had ever arisen, apparently it had been settled without reference to any such cure as was suggested here. The Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Bryce) to-night spoke in what he (Mr. Sexton) thought was a strictly Constitutional sense when ho said that it would be open to the Lord Lieutenant in Ireland, when the popular Chamber proceeded to tack on to an Appropriation Bill any provisions, objectionable either from the point of view of Imperial interest or natural justice, or because they were oppressive to the minority in Ireland—it would be open to the Lord Lieutenant to warn his Ministers of the consequences. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, in his usual dramatic style, suggested that it would be difficult for the Lord Lieutenant to address the House. Why need he address the House? He need only send for a Minister. There would be daily com- 1162 munication, of course, between the Lord Lieutenant and his Ministers in Ireland. Suppose he saw the Irish Chamber proceeding to tack on to an Appropriation Bill a provision to place an undue tax on Ulster, or to endow a Church, or any other provisions ultra vires or unjust, he would send for a Minister and say to him—"There is no doubt that if you talk on these provisions to this Appropriation Bill you stand in danger of having the whole Bill vetoed." Such a warning from the Viceroy would be perfectly Constitutional. Ministers would confer upon that, and then they would be placed in this position—that if after the warning given to them they persisted in putting in the Appropriation Bill any incongruous matters they would bring the Government of Ireland into the danger of having its whole system deranged; and if they persisted and passed this hybrid Bill the Lord Lieutenant would have the right to dismiss them from Office and to call in a new Ministry, who would present an Appropriation Bill as a separate Bill. If the Lord Lieutenant could find no Ministry to fulfil the conditions which he thought proper the Lord Lieutenant would be authorised to dissolve the Chamber; and he (Mr. Sexton) submitted to this Assembly that if Irish Ministers, by their obstinacy, refused to follow the usual Constitutional course of passing an Appropriation Bill confined to money solely, they would come before the electors of Ireland as persons who, by their obstinacy, and by their departure from Constitutional usages, had put the country to the trouble of a General Election, and brought about the derangement of the Public Service. Who would be the more concerned in guarding the Public Service in Ireland—the Irish Ministers or the English Ministers? What money would be in question? The Revenue of Ireland, and the special Revenue of Ireland. Some hon. Members might be of opinion that an Imperial contribution would be a part of the appropriation grant. It would not. The Treasury had the power to take Ireland's contribution out of the Revenue of Ireland before it was paid into the Irish Consolidated Fund. The money to be administered in the Irish Chamber would be Irish Revenue for Irish uses only; and if Ministers, by a side wind, attempted to foist upon the 1163 Lord Lieutenant in an Appropriation Bill provisions which had nothing to do with money, or improper provisions relating to money, they would be placed in the position that the necessary disposition of the Revenue of Ireland would be deranged, and, in his judgment, they would incur a heavy penalty at the hands of the country. That he considered ample security. If the Bill passed into law the veto then would come into play, and he had not the slightest hesitation in saying if, against a previous warning, Ministers in Ireland persisted in forcing such a Bill upon the Lord Lieutenant, that the Lord Lieutenant would be entitled to apply his veto to the whole Bill. No serious derangement of the Public Service need follow. The Irish Chambers would be bound to carry on their Session. They would be obliged to continue the Session, and as the salary of every public official in Ireland was dependent upon the passage of the Appropriation Bill. Ministers would have no option but to proceed with the Appropriation Bill alone, and leave out the other provisions. The consequence would be that, after some inconvenience and some delay, Ministers would be obliged to proceed in a Constitutional way. Now, for the hundredth time in this discussion, they found an Amendment before them which was not commensurate with the point of grievance or danger. The grievance was only where the Appropriation Bill included an incongruous provision. If this Amendment was carried, whether it included such a provision or not, the Lord Lieutenant and the Imperial Cabinet would be entitled to take their pens and run them through each provision of an Appropriation Bill which did not meet their pleasure, although the money in question would be the special Revenue of Ireland for the purposes of Ireland only. From the point of view of common sense or of self-interest, he, as an Irishman, would much prefer to deal with the Revenue of Ireland in Committee of Supply in this House rather than submit to such a system under which—after officers had been appointed, after liabilities had been incurred, and after the two Chambers in Ireland had gone through the length of transacting Votes of Supply for the year, and placing them in an Appropriation Bill—Ministers, 400 miles away, would be entitled to 1164 take their Bill, dealing with their money for their own purposes, to take up the function of a public auditor in regard to a Corporation and surcharge the Irish Legislature for whatever they pleased. Members of all Parties would recognise that the proposal was farcical.
§ MR. BOUSFIELD (Hackney, N.)
said, this was one of a class of Amendments intended to render the veto a really effective veto, and to give effect to the Preamble, which professed to preserve the Imperial supremacy. The hon. Member for Kerry said that if the power sought by the Amendment was conceded the Lord Lieutenant might run his pen not merely through the particular item in the Appropriation Bill which was contemplated by the Mover of the Amendmend, but through other items. The hon. Gentleman forgot that on the face of the Bill, in theory, at all events, the Lord Lieutenant had power to run his pen through the whole of the Appropriation Bill if he received instructions in that respect. The Amendment, in the face of it, seemed an eminently reasonable one. It was contemplated that the Appropriation Bill might have bound up with it something which ought to be vetoed. It seemed to him, therefore, a most simple and obvious expedient that the Lord Lieutenant should be able to veto that which ought to be vetoed without, at the same time, vetoing that which ought not to be vetoed. Not only that part of the Amendment, but the other part of it, was, as a matter of fact, in accordance not merely with the American precedents, but also in accordance with Colonial precedents which had been established and maintained for the last 40 or 50 years. In almost every one of the Colonial Acts there was a provision that the Governor might, if he pleased, send a Bill back to the Assembly before he gave his consent, requiring that certain Amendments should be made in the Bill; and that provision had been found convenient in practice, not only by the American Legislatures, but by our own Colonial Parliaments. This Amendment was designed to carry out that which had been for years past the professed intention of the Government—namely, that the Legislature set up by the Bill should be a subordinate Legislature. Years ago the Prime Minister said it must be an essential feature of any Bill that the 1165 Imperial supremacy should be effectively maintained. At the last Election they heard for the first time that the model of Imperial supremacy was to be of the same kind as that exercised over our Colonies. That declaration, he confessed, in his own constituency secured him many votes; but even the declaration that the vague kind of supremacy exercised over Colonial Legislatures was to be exercised over the Irish Legislature had been departed from by the Prime Minister in the course of these Debates, and they were not even to have the same kind of supremacy as that which was exercised in the case of the Colonies. The idea of legislative subordination which the Prime Minister started years ago and maintained up to the beginning of these Debates had grown into the notion of legislative freedom. How did the right hon. Gentleman reconcile the fact that he had gained the majority, such as it was, in this Parliament, upon the faith of his intention to create a subordinate Legislature, with the professions he had made in the last two or three days that the intention was not legislative subordination, but legislative freedom? He hoped that, even at the eleventh hour, the Government would recognise the reasonableness of the proposition now put forward, and would accede to the Amendment.
§ Question put, and negatived.
THE MARQUESS OF CARMARTHEN (Lambeth, Brixton)
, on behalf of Viscount Wolmer, moved the following Amendment:—In page 4, line 3, after the word "Bill," to insert the words,—"Whenever any Bill which shall have been presented for Her Majesty's assent to the Lord Lieutenant shall by the Lord Lieutenant have been assented to in Her Majesty's name, the Lord Lieutenant shall forthwith transmit to one of Her Majesty's principal Secretaries of State an authentic copy of such Bill so assented to; and it shall be lawful at any time within one year after such Bill shall have been so received by the Secretary of State for Her Majesty by Order in Council to declare Her disallowance of such Bill; and such disallowance, together with a certificate under the hand and seal of the Secretary of State, certifying the day on which such Bill was received as aforesaid, being signified by the Lord Lieutenant to the Irish Legislature by speech or message to the said Legislature, or by proclamation in the Irish Government Gazette, shall make void and annul the same from and after the day of such signification.He said that he had an Amendment on 1166 the Paper in almost similar terms to this, the only difference being that he had suggested two years as the probationary period instead of one, as was suggested in the present proposal; and, of course, as he was now moving the Amendment, he must support the period of one year, There was this much to be said for the Amendment. It was put down on the Second Reading of the Home Rule Bill, and it was the first to be shut out by the guillotine arrangement on the 6th July. It might be said that the Amendment was discussed on the previous occasion; but it was only under discussion for the space of half-an-hour, and considering how important the subject was there was no need to offer any apology for again bringing it before the House. As far as he had been able to make out, the Amendment he now moved had been adopted in the Constitution of every one of our Colonial Possessions, and not only so, but they held this particular safeguard in great esteem. During the previous short discussion on this Amendment there was one argument only advanced against it; and that was that the difference in distance between Ireland and the Colonies made this provision, though useful in the case of the Colonies, entirely unnecessary for Ireland. He ventured to submit that the question of distance did not affect the value of the provision, because in these days of rapid communication a few odd thousand miles made very little difference. As he had said, statesmen in the Colonies attached very great importance indeed to this safeguard. In March and April, 1891, there was a Federation held of all the different Colonies; and at the close of that Convention there was carried—practically unanimously—a clause in almost identical terms to that which he was now moving, the only difference between the delegates being whether the term should be for one year or two years. Sir Samuel Griffiths spoke very strongly in favour of keeping this provision in their Bill; and Mr. Marmion, who at that time represented Western Australia, said—So long as we give to the Queen the power of appointing the Governor General, we ought to allow her some exercise of discretion as to the salary her appointee shall receive. Under this Bill the connection between the British Crown and Australia generally is so very slight that we ought not to do anything calculated to weaken it. The time will possibly arrive quite 1167 soon enough for the connecting link to be cut altogether, and we should, at any rate, do nothing in this Convention to hasten that time.He respectfully claimed that as they considered this so valuable in the Colonies, and as this Parliament was to have the right of control over the Irish Legislature, they were entitled to have this Colonial safeguard put into the Bill. He really did think the Government would be acting wisely in adopting the Amendment. If they were to exercise control, surely it would be better to exercise it in the way tried in all our Colonies and proved to be a success, and which would enable the Imperial Parliament or the Queen in Council, advised by her English Ministers, to give a Bill a trial, and if it worked well to let it continue, and if it worked badly to veto it, without that direct veto from the Imperial Parliament which, without doubt, would lead to great friction. They could imagine countless instances in which the Lord Lieutenant might be unwilling to veto a Bill and yet be unwilling to give it assent. If this proposal were adopted ho would be able to give it one year's trial, and if it worked well he would let it continue, whilst if it was a failure he would exercise the power of making it void. He bogged to move the Amendment.
In page 4, line 3, after the word "Bill," to insert the words,—"Whenever any Bill which shall have been presented for Her Majesty's assent to the Lord Lieutenant shall by the Lord Lieutenant have been assented to in Her Majesty's name, the Lord Lieutenant shall forthwith transmit to one of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State an authentic copy of such Bill so assented to; and it shall be lawful at any time within one year after such Bill shall have been so received by the Secretary of State for Her Majesty by Order in Council to declare Her disallowance of such Bill; and such disallowance, together with a certificate under the hand and seal of the Secretary of State, certifying the day on which such Bill was received as aforesaid, being signified by the Lord Lieutenant to the Irish Legislature by speech or message to the said Legislature, or by proclamation in the Irish Government Gazette, shall make void and annul the same from and after the day of such signification."—(The Marquess of Carmarthen.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ *THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir C. Russell,) Hackney, S.
said, the Government could not accept the 1168 Amendment of the noble Lord, and he would briefly state the reasons why they could not accept it. He did not lay any particular stress upon the fact that this question was discussed—if not at very great length, at some length—on the 5th July, and the proposition was then negatived. It was, of course, for the Opposition to consider whether, during the short remaining time at their disposal, they should utilise their opportunities to discuss topics on which the House had already expressed an opinion, or whether they should break new ground. The reason why the Government objected to this Amendment was this—the Bill proposed to give to the Irish Legislature within a certain defined area, and subject to certain definite limitations, the power of legislating; and it was the policy of the Government that the Irish Legislature should have within that sphere freedom, but not independence. That was to say, that on these matters, subject to the limitations proposed by the Bill, they should have effective powers of legislating as they considered right, subject always to the interference on definite instructions of the Lord Lieutenant. He had to ask the House, did not the provisions of the Bill afford ample opportunity for considering beforehand whether any Bill should receive the Royal Assent or not without introducing the provisions of this Amendment? The noble Lord proposed that in the case of a Bill which was within the province of the Irish Legislative Body, and which had passed both Houses of the Irish Legislative Body, whatever that Bill might be, yet after the passing of that Bill—after effect had been given to it, upon the faith of which action had been taken, engagements entered into, and obligations undertaken—at the end of the year that was all to be brushed aside and the Bill declared to be null and void. Consider the complications that might follow from that course. That would be a very extreme step to take unless a very clear and obvious necessity existed for following it, and he thought the House would see that it was a proposition which ought not to be adopted unless that clear and obvious necessity was made out. Was there any such necessity? There was daily communication by post with Ireland, there was 1169 telegraphic communication, and there were the daily organs of the Press. Was it conceivable there would not be full and ample means of information long before the Bills became law which would be sufficient to guide the judgment of those concerned? Although it might not be the intention of the noble Lord who moved it, the Government regarded this Amendment as an invitation to the Imperial Parliament and Cabinet to do that which they deprecated doing except in cases of extreme necessity—namely, to interfere with Irish legislative action within the domain of the powers conferred by the Bill.
§ MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
said, it appeared to him that the Attorney General had not given the slightest attention to the facts on which the noble Lord based his support of this Amendment. They had been told again and again that the model taken for framing this spurious Constitution had been that of the Colonial Assemblies. They had the fact that in most of the Colonies this very provision existed; that it had been acted upon for years; that no possible inconvenience arose from it, and yet they were told that although they could all work under a provision of this kind, it would be an indignity to the Irish nation, and such an invasion of the privileges of this not independent, but free, Legislature, that it was not to be tolerated for a moment. Surely the rational and sensible thing to do was to introduce that kind of provision which had worked well in the Colonies, and bring the Bills over here in order to allow time enough to consider their scope and working, and to give an opportunity of dealing effectively with them. Unless the Government could show why a provision which had worked well and was approved in all our Colonies should not be applied to this other subordinate Legislature, the Opposition had not received that answer which was due to them.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)
moved the following Amendment:—In page 4, line 3, after the word "Bill," to insert the words—"The prerogative of mercy shall rot be exercised by the Lord Lieutenant on behalf of Her Majesty, except upon the advice of one of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State.He observed that the time for a consi- 1170 derate and rational answer on the part of the Government to any proposition had passed away. He had some satisfaction in thinking that he had the honour of being possibly the Member to propose the last Amendment that would be submitted to the House before the grotesque operation of that night was undertaken, and he should be able to tell his constituents that an Amendment which he believed to be of first-rate importance had been made the subject of the procedure with which they were threatened. He thought it would be a very useful object-lesson, and of valuable assistance to him in demonstrating the thesis which he should have to present to them. The Amendment was necessary as a consequential Amendment on one which had boon before the House during the discussion of the Bill. Allusion had been made in the course of the discussion to the powers of the Lord Lieutenant in regard to certain subjects, and as to whether those powers were properly defined by the Bill as it now stood. He (Mr. Forster) did not propose to confine himself to the reserved subject mentioned in Clauses 3 and 4. He was anxious to point to some of the patent absurdities that appeared on the face of the Bill, in the hope that the Government might be induced to relieve him with regard to the Amendment which he brought forward. Mo bad no sanguine hope, however, at the present moment. The question was whether or not it should be in the power of the Irish Legislature to exercise the prerogative of mercy, depriving this House of the power it now exercised with regard to that prerogative. It would, no doubt, be said that it was an ungracious thing to seek to deprive a Legislature of the power of exercising this prerogative; but he had no scruples whatever in making that proposition for taking the prerogative away from the Party to which he was opposed—a Party which never had shown mercy to any man opposed to it, a Party which had been the most unmerciful and cruel in the history of the country. He wished to show how this matter worked out. He would take the case of the dynamite convicts, upon whoso behalf it had been said by the Home Secretary that the Lord Lieutenant was bound to receive the Petition of the Corporation 1171 of York, although the cases were cases with which he had nothing to do, and in regard to which he could not exercise his prerogative, these persons being in English and not in Irish gaols. He wanted to come to the cases of convicts similar to those convicts in Irish gaols. They had had a pretty plain statement this Session from the Home Secretary with regard to these felons; and the right hon. Gentleman announced the view of, as he (Mr. Arnold-Forster) believed, the majority in the House, that these prisoners were properly detained, and that they should not be released. But were they prepared to set up a state of things in which the Homo Secretary would be overruled, and these persons would be free from the control of the judgment of the House? It had been suggested that a statement of that kind required some qualification, as these felons were convicted on charges which brought into play the provisions of the Bill—that they were convicted of treason-felony, and that that was a subject reserved from the control of the Irish Legislature; but he had to remind the House that there were many cases of which that could not be said. The House would remember the case of the Manchester murder—the case of the murder of Sergeant Brett. The prisoners in that case were not indicted for treason-felony, but for wilful murder. Then they had the case of the Phoenix Park murders. The prisoners in that case also were convicted of murder. Were they going to give the Irish Legislature power to set free prisoners convicted of that and of similar crimes? Time after time sympathy had been expressed with these convicts in the columns of United Ireland—the warmest expressions of sympathy had been published in that journal; and it was rational and reasonable to suppose that the statements given in the journal of the Party opposite (the Irish Members) in Ireland, and addressed to their followers, would represent their views. The case of the Phœnix Park murders, like other cases that could be named, was not an Irish case solely; it was that of an Irish official and an official of the United Kingdom, and affecting the United Kingdom. Were they, then, prepared to grant the power to exercise this prerogative in such cases, or were they willing that such powers should be kept 1172 in the hands of the Imperial Government only? It would be said that it would be a great inconvenience to deprive the Irish Legislature of the power of exercising the prerogative in certain cases—that there were many cases which must necessarily arise in which it would be convenient that this power should be exercised without appeal to the Imperial Government. But, in his opinion, the greater included the less, and he desired that they should be safeguarded, so that the class of persons to whom he referred should not be let loose upon England and Scotland. Under this Bill Irish Judges and juries would be in sympathy with the views of the Irish Legislature, and persons convicted by them would be convicted with the full approval of the Government. They had to remember that there were two Parties in Ireland. They had had failures to convict in recent cases. There was a part of Ireland where the operation of the law was automatic; but in other parts they had a paralysis of the law. According to the code which prevailed in Irish society outside Ulster, men were regarded as guiltless who, while committing no crime against the Irish people, perpetrated outrages against the English and Scotch people. There was only one part of Ireland—the North—in which they could rely upon getting an honest verdict in such cases. It was reasonable to think that, while the prerogative of mercy remained with this House, it would be exercised with due regard to the fooling that prevailed throughout the United Kingdom as to what was and what was not criminal. This was not the first time the matter had been under discussion. It had been discussed in connection with Colonial Legislatures and Executives, and there had been a delegation in regard to it; but the Colonies had no part in the deliberations of this House. This Bill did nothing that was analogous to the Colonial case. The Irish Members would sit in this House, and would have their full share in deliberations on the subject of the Queen's prerogative. Another question was how they were to deal with persons who had fled this country, and who did not dare to face the tribunals of this country—men who had always sympathised with the Irish Nationalist Members, and who had been in personal 1173 contact with some of them, and who knew that if they returned to this country they would be convicted by the tribunals of the country. These men might return. Under the circumstances what, he asked, would be their position? They knew perfectly well that if brought before a Court in Ireland, and convicted of the offence charged against them, they were certain of having the prerogative of mercy exercised in their favour. He did not want to go into detail, but it was within the knowledge of the House that there were many who had fled the country within the last 10 years—men whose return would be regarded by the great majority of the people of England, of Great Britain, with regret and apprehension—men who had encouraged and inflicted an amount of injustice upon the Queen's subjects which they did not wish to see repeated. Those persons were in sympathy with those who would be the first Ministers of Ireland under this Bill. The question was, would they give the prerogative over to those Ministers, or would they keep it with the Imperial Parliament. He believed this was a reasonable Amendment, and he would like to hear something of a clear and definite character from Her Majesty's Government touching a matter which vitally concerned those whom he represented, and those whom he did not represent—but for whom he might say that they had suffered for the crimes committed by those men, and would suffer still more if this power was entrusted to the Irish Legislature. He begged to move the Amendment.
In page 4, line 3, after the word "Bill," to insert the words, "The prerogative of mercy shall not be exercised by the Lord Lieutenant on behalf of Her Majesty, except upon the advice of one of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State."—(Mr. Arnold-Forster.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
MR. J. MORLEY
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member who has moved this Amendment began by saying that the subject would afford an object-lesson to his constituents and to the constituencies of the country. He declared that it would illustrate the suppression of free speech, which the necessity of bringing this Debate to a close compels us to enforce. Sir, I desire no better object- 1174 lesson. The hon. Member appears to forget that this very Amendment was discussed fully and amply on the Motion of the hon. Member himself on the 4th of July, when every argument which he has brought forward to-night was used by him.
MR. J. MORLEY
On the 4th of July this Amendment was proposed. He made the Motion on that date, and it was discussed through many pages of Hansard, and a great many important and conspicuous speakers representing all quarters of the House took part in the Debate; and, as I have said, every single argument brought forward now was brought forward on that occasion. I desire no better object-lesson than the resuscitation of this Amendment on the Report stage, after its having been fully discussed and divided upon in Committee. This proposal is a type of what has been going on all through these Debates on the part of the hon. Member and others. The hon. Member said he wished to hear from us the view we are prepared to take of this matter; but I would remind him that on the occasion to which I refer the hon. Member got a rational and considerate reply from two or three of my right hon. Friends sitting on this (the Treasury) Bench.
MR. J. MORLEY
And the hon. Member asked us to divide, with the result that the numbers at this time were 250 for the Amendment and 293 against it. Here we are to-night again asked to discuss the question, devoting precious time to a matter which was deliberately negatived by a large majority in July. Surely the majority was large enough; and surely the majorities on Report have been large enough for the hon. Member? Now, Sir, I will not try to rise to the height of the hon. Member in giving what he would call a rational reply to his speech in moving the Amendment. I cannot give any new argument, but I will repeat some of the arguments brought forward on that occasion. The hon. Member asks the House to withhold from the Lord Lieutenant the power of exercising the prerogative of mercy or of remitting sentences in any 1175 case without the authority of the Secretary of State in this country. Anyone who has had experience in the Irish Government knows that by far the majority of cases in which the Lord Lieutenant is advised to exercise the prerogative of mercy are cases of so trivial a character that anyone would be ashamed to go to the trouble of sending over to the Secretary of State in this country in order to see whether the prerogative of mercy should or should not be exercised—as, for example, whether a fine should be reduced from £4 to 10s., or whether a person should be imprisoned for a fortnight or the sentence remitted altogether. Does the hon. Member seriously contend that small matters of administration of that kind ought to be handed over to the Secretary of State here—with, possibly, Motions for Adjournment upon them in this House? That is not the spirit in which this Bill is proposed. We will suppose that the hon. Member has thought out carefully the subject of the Amendment as regard cases of a serious character when the action of the Lord Lieutenant might produce serious effects. But does he not realise what we have done? What we have done is this:—We have given to the Irish Legislature the power of making its own Criminal Law, with restrictions, and of arranging its own rules of criminal procedure. The hon. Member's argument is that, while apparently granting that the Irish Legislature may be fit to make its own Criminal Law and to inquire into the principles and practice of criminal procedure, the Lord Lieutenant is not to be allowed to mitigate sentences or to exercise all those functions of the prerogative without reference to the Secretary of State here. I do not believe that the hon. Member, on reflection, will seriously contend that the Government ought to adopt this view. It is a new scheme; and after granting these powers, are you going to prevent the Government tempering justice with mercy? All Governments do it, and, of course, you must allow the liberty of considering all the social circumstances that must be taken into account in every case. I agree with the hon. Member that a case might arise in which there might be a class of offenders whom it would be desirable that the Lord Lieutenant, on the advice of the Irish Ministry, should not have the power of relieving 1176 from some of their punishment. In that case, no doubt the Secretary of State and the Government of the day would limit the power of the Lord Lieutenant in the instrument of delegation. But the hon. Member would tie the hands of the Secretary of State. By the Amendment he could not delegate the prerogative of mercy. So far from giving power, the Amendment limits power. It is a violation of the whole principle on which the Bill is framed, and, if adopted, it would lead to difficulties which would give rise to a most unworkable situation in the administration of the Criminal Law. I must, therefore, say for myself and my colleagues that we cannot assent to the Amendment.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
rose in his place, and was understood to say, by way of personal explanation, that he had brought the matter forward again because ho attached great importance to it, and he had for the moment forgotten that it was so fully discussed in Committee.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I cannot agree with the general principle laid down by the Chief Secretary that when-over a matter has been discussed in Committee it ought not to be re-discussed on Report. We have certainly not shown ourselves actuated by a desire to repeat discussions that have taken place in this House. We have steadily kept in view the recommendation of yourself, Mr. Speaker, from the Chair, that it would not be desirable, in view of the brief amount of time at our disposal, that we should unnecessarily enter into a discussion of questions which have been already adequately discussed. Sir, we do not admit that because a thing has been discussed it should not be discussed on Report. That would be an alteration of our whole Parliamentary system, to which I would not give my assent. We have one hour left for the discussion of the remaining 36 clauses of the Bill—
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I had the Schedules in my mind. We have only one hour in which to discuss the remaining clauses of the Bill; and even the Government, with their peculiar views on Debates, will hardly think that that is adequate for the purpose. There is one important Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for South 1177 Londonderry (Sir T. Lea), and I should regret that the Debate should come to au untimely close before an effort has been made to discuss it.
§ SIR H. JAMES
I should like to ask the Chief Secretary whether it would be in the power of the Lord Lieutenant to give a free pardon, not to convicted persons, but to any person who may have committed, or who may be suspected of having committed, any offence in Ireland in past times, so as to enable him to return and take his place as a free citizen and even as a Member of the Legislature of Ireland?
MR. J. MORLEY
I think the right hon. Gentleman will not deny that the Crown has at the present moment power to pardon any one particular person. The whole question consequently will be whether the Advisers of the Crown think it right in framing the instrument of delegation to give the Lord Lieutenant such a power, and that will entirely depend upon the view of the Imperial Cabinet of the day.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said, that as the right hon. Gentleman and the Legal Advisers of the Cabinet were responsible for these matters just now, it was fair to ask him how far he would extend the delegation of the prerogatives of Her Majesty? He would point out that there were 282 Amendments on the Paper, including the one under discussion. Upon 264 of these they were not to be allowed to vote or speak—only the sacred Amendments of the Government were to be voted upon.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ MR. FISHER (Fulham)
said, he wished to move an Amendment which, perhaps, if not the most important on the Paper, was, at any rate, not without importance. He wished to add to Clause 5 the following proviso:—Provided that such power of giving or withholding the assent of Her Majesty to Bills shall not be exercised by any executive officer or officers for the time being appointed in the place of the Lord Lieutenant.If the scheme brought forward by the Government had been meant for work and not for show, the Government would have paid attention to the making of some provision for the discharge of the duty of the Lord Lieutenant in the event of his resignation or inability to perform his functions, and they would have borne 1178 in mind that the Lord Lieutenant under the Bill would have entirely new functions to perform. Though this matter had been discussed in Committee they bad not arrived at any conclusion, and he could not help thinking that when the Government had accepted an Amendment moved in Committee many Members thought it an extraordinary thing to put the veto into commission. The object of the Amendment was that the power of veto, which was, after all, the very keystone of the Bill, and the arch upon which the liberties of the loyal minority rested, should not be exercised by any person or persons who might for the time being be appointed to act for the Lord Lieutenant. He would point out that in the American Constitution—which was not framed under such extraordinary rules as those which would prevent the discussion of Amendments to the present Bill after 11 o'clock to-night—provision was made for a deputy in the person of the Vice President. The American Constitution went further, and made arrangements for some other person to take the place of the Vice President if neither the President nor the Vice President could act. The Prime Minister had said that the Imperial Parliament would undertake responsibility for the discharge of the duty if the Lord Lieutenant was unable to act, but the House was being constantly told that the power of the veto of the Lord Lieutenant was to be the security of the loyal minority as against oppression and possible injustice on the part of the Irish Legislature, and what he now desired to know was by whom that power of veto was going to be exercised? They ought not to leave the matter open for settlement on some future occasion. The Lord Lieutenant ought not to be allowed to nominate some mere creature of the Irish Legislature to exercise that power. If the right hon. Gentleman said that the Amendment did not provide for the exercise of the veto on the part of anybody when the Lord Lieutenant was unable to act, he would ask him if he would accept at the end of the Amendment the following words:—But shall, while some executive, officer or officers remain in office, be exercised by Her Majesty in Council.He did not think that the performance of the functions of the Lord Lieutenant, 1179 under the conditions he contemplated, should he left to a haphazard arrangement.
In page 4, line 3, after the word "Bill," to insert the words "Provided that such power of giving or withholding the assent of Her Majesty to Bills shall not be exercised by any executive officer or officers for the time being appointed in the place of the Lord Lieutenant."—(Mr. Fisher.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
was understood to say that the Government had assented to a proposal to enable the Lords' Justices to act in place of the Lord Lieutenant; and ho did not understand why it was that, having gained that point, the hon. Member now desired to impose so stringent a limitation as that contained in the Amendment. It was not desirable that the functions of the Lord Lieutenant should be placed in a condition of paralysis. In the absence of the Lord Lieutenant for a short time, owing to causes of high necessity or to illness, it was necessary that the Lords Justices or someone should have the power to perform acts which might be necessary for the public welfare. A case had been put in which it might he necessary for the Lord Lieutenant to act forthwith, as in the case of the Explosives Act, which was passed through both Houses of the present Legislature in one day—indeed, ho remembered another case where a Bill not only passed through both Houses, but received the Royal Assent in one day. That was done for the public convenience and advantage. The Lords Justices were not casual persons picked up here and there. There had been a suspicion that there would be some jobbery on the part of the Irish Executive, and that some improper personage might be named a Lord Justice in order to exorcise the veto, but sufficient protection against an abuse of that kind was to be found in the Queen's Patent of appointment. If it was thought that there might be a wholesale delegation of the powers of the Viceroy, while it would not be wise to provide by Statute against some delegation of the powers, so that the necessary business of the State might not be stopped and delay caused by the unavoidable absence of the Lord Lieu- 1180 tenant, no Government would assent to a wholesale delegation of his powers.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ SIR T. LEA (Londonderry, S.)
said, he wished to move to add at the end of the clause—Provided always that in assenting to any Bill whereby the rules of the National Board of Education in Ireland at present in force may be altered, or to any alteration by the said Board of the said rules, the Lord Lieutenant shall act on behalf of Her Majesty.All persons interested in the question of education knew that the present system in Ireland should be allowed to proceed undisturbed in its present position. It had made great advances of late years, and the people of Ireland wore not ungrateful to the late Government for the assistance they had given in their Bill of 1892. Seven-eighths of the schools in Ireland were now entirely free from all fees. The system was undenominational, although it had gone a long way towards being denominational. When a similar question to that raised by the Amendment was under discussion the Prime Minister said that—
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I rise to Order. Is the hon. Baronet in Order in referring to a Debate on another Bill in the same Session?
§ SIR T. LEA
said, that he was quoting what the Prime Minister said on the present Bill two weeks ago. The Prime Minister said that if the Irish Legislature carried the denominational principle to any length they pleased they would certainly come into conflict with the provisions of the Bill relating to undue preference. It was, therefore, quite clear that the Prime Minister intended that the present system of undenominational education should be continued, and further proof of that intention was afforded by the restrictions contained in the Bill, particularly Sub-section 4 of Clause 4, which said that the power of the Irish Legislature should not extend to—Prejudicially affecting the right of any child to attend a school receiving public money, without attending the religious instruction at that school.Many of them had seen the great advantage of the present mixed system of education in Ireland. He had listened to Professor Fawcett 20 years ago on the advantages of men of all religious 1181 denominations being educated together—particularly in Ireland—and he believed the only way in which they would overcome the acerbities of Irish life, and the bitterness of religious feeling, was by a system under which men of all parties and creeds were trained together. Nearly half the schools in Ireland—that was to say, 3,817, were mixed schools. In Ulster there were 990 schools under Protestant management attended by 10. per cent, of Catholic children, and 878 schools under Roman Catholic management attended by 10.9 per cent, of Protestant children. In the other three Provinces the number of Protestant children was very small—no more than 2.8 in Munster, and 3.9 in Connaught—and it would be impossible that they could be educated under any other system than that of mixed schools. To put an end to that system would be to drive the Protestant families out of the South of Ireland. It had been stated in the course of the Debate that the Education Board of Ireland would have power to abolish the Conscience Clause. If that was so, the system of mixed education was doomed, and Roman Catholic families in the North and Protestant families in the South would have to seek their living elsewhere. He, therefore, contended that the Lord Lieutenant should have power to prevent the National Board of Education from in any way changing the present system.
In page 4, line 3, after the word "Bill," to insert the words "Provided always that in assenting to any Bill whereby the rules of the National Board of Education in Ireland at present in force may be altered, or to any alteration by the said Board of the said rules, the Lord Lieutenant shall act on behalf of Her Majesty."—(Sir T. Lea.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. SEXTON
The Amendment of the hon. Baronet contains two propositions, one of which refers to legislative action and to the application of the veto by Imperial authority to Irish legislative action; and the other invites this House to sanction the principle that, after the granting of Home Rule to Ireland, the Imperial Government is still to be saddled with the responsibility of directing and advising the Lord Lieutenant to intervene and to overbear the will of the Irish Government in regard 1182 to an internal matter between the Irish Government and one of the departments of administration in Ireland. The proposal is a novel one. I do not remember that I have heard it made before, and when the hon. Baronet says that he apprehends—though I know not upon what ground—that there may be an injury done to religious feeling in Ireland in connection with a department of primary education, I have to remind him that by the Charter of the National Board of Education the Board is equally composed of Catholics and Protestants—10 Catholics and 10 Protestants—and that as the charter will continue in force, that arrangement would remain, and in that arrangement I think a sufficient protection may be found for the interest of all denominations in Ireland. The hon. Baronet makes a very bold and sweeping proposition, because he asks the House to agree that in sanctioning any alteration whatever by the Board of National Education in their rules the Lord Lieutenant shall act as representing Her Majesty. I am sorry that at this moment I have not the rules of the Board of Education in my hand, but I have sent for them, and I dare say before this Debate concludes some one or other of my hon. Friends will bring under the notice of the House these rules, and enable hon. Members to understand to what function the hon. Baronet desires to commit the House. The rules of the National Board are not numbered by dozens or scores; they are numbered by hundreds. They have attached to them voluminous and complicated appendices. The system of the National Board of Education includes not only the appointment, qualification, and examination of teachers, the appointment and qualification of Inspectors, the building of schools, the building of non-vested schools, the hours of secular and religious instruction; but the general curriculum of education, the management of agricultural schools, and a variety of other subjects, and upon all these matters rules have continually to be made, revised, and repealed by the Board of Education. The proposal of the hon. Baronet is that in regard to all these hundreds of rules revisable from time to time, when the Board—composed of competent Irishmen, embracing some of the most distinguished and learned gentlemen in the country—Judges, clergymen, and others—alter any of these rules, 1183 repeal any of these rules, or make any new rule, they are to have their decision overborne by the Imperial Ministers. The hon. Baronet's proposal is that the question of the alteration, revision, or repeal of any rule shall not be sanctioned by the Lord Lieutenant, even upon the advice of his Irish Ministers, and even when the opinion of the Board of National Education is unanimous; and that the unanimous opinion of Irish Ministers and the unanimous opinion of the National Board shall be overruled, and that the English gentleman whom you send over to the Castle shall come over to London and submit to the gentlemen sitting on the Treasury Bench—no doubt the most accomplished gentlemen in the country, but gentlemen probably not knowing much about Ireland—submit to them the question whether or not there shall be an alteration of the rule as to what shall be the amount of the grant for a school in Ireland, or what knowledge of arithmetic shall be possessed by a third-class teacher sanctioned, and to ask these 12 English gentlemen to pour contempt on the Irish Ministry and upon the Department of State authorised to conduct the system of education. In the wording of his Amendment—Provided always that, in assenting to any Bill whereby the rules of the National Board of Education in Ireland," &c.—the hon. Baronet displays his habitual inaptitude of expression, because if the question were only the assenting to a Bill, of course it would be all right. What the hon. Baronet means is, that in considering the question of his assent or refusing his assent he would act as representing Her Majesty. Does the hon. Baronet bear in mind, so far as the Bill is concerned, how abundant, how more than ample, are the provisions contained in the Act for the protection of religions feeling in the matter of education? He has cited some of them, and it is not suggested that they are insufficient. In Clause 4, Sub-section 2, we have it that the Irish Legislature must not pass any law imposing any disability or conferring any advantage or benefit on account of religious belief; and in the next subsection, protecting any child attending a school receiving public money from any disability because of non-attendance at religious instruction within the school. I have not heard a suggestion that that 1184 is not sufficient. The hon. Baronet has not said it. We have it, therefore, already in the Bill that the Irish Parliament cannot, by passing a Bill, do anything to prejudice the rights of any member of the community in the matter of education. If the Irish Parliament pass a Bill imposing disability on Protestants or Presbyterians, or affecting the right of any child to attend a public school without attending the religious instruction imparted at the school, I admit that the Lord Lieutenant has the right to veto it. The Amendment of the hon. Baronet is open to two objections. The first is that the rule of the National Board, which it may be desired to make, may be unobjectionable to everybody in Ireland. Why in that case should you refer to Imperial authority? But even if the Bill were objectionable, I say that the Imperial Ministry, even without the Amendment, would have power to direct the Lord Lieutenant to veto the Bill.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I observe, Sir, that the shorter our time grows the longer are the speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite. The speech, however, to which we have just listened can be put into two sentences. The Amendment of my hon. Friend, according to the hon. Member for North Kerry (Mr. Sexton), ought not to be supported, in the first place, because the rules of the National Board of Education are very numerous and very complicated, and because to engage in any supervision of those rules would be to throw on this House and on the Lord Lieutenant a task altogether beyond their capacity. That was the hon. Member's first argument. His second argument was that already under the Bill this task is thrown on the Lord Lieutenant. It is perfectly evident that the two branches of the speech of the hon. Gentleman are absolutely inconsistent one with the other. As a matter of fact, it does not matter how complicated are the rules of the National Board; they are not more complicated than the rules of our Council for Education, and all that Parliament would have to look to in regard to any proposal of the kind contemplated by the Amendment would be whether it would be likely to affect the unsectarian character of the education. All other changes in the rules, everything affecting the teachers and the curriculum, would be passed over at once, and I would undertake to say that any 1185 intelligent Lord Lieutenant, on dealing with a Bill of the kind, would be able to decide in half-an-hour whether or not he ought to exercise his veto. I am not going to continue the discussion further than to say that this is an Amendment the discussion of which is, under the circumstances, of no importance. We have no time to deal with the matter by discussion or by argument, but it is of importance to have a vote and a Division List on the subject. We are extremely anxious to see who are the Members who will support the proposal of this Bill to place it in the absolute power of a Parliament, the majority of whose Members will be elected under the influence of the Roman Catholic priesthood, to deal with the present undenominational and mixed system of education as they please.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
said, it seemed to him that the more restricted the time became the more the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. Chamberlain) talked. He could have excused the right hon. Gentleman's rising at that hour if he had done so in order to explain his letter to Mr. Duignan. If there was one question on which the right hon. Gentleman was, according to his letter to Mr. Duignan, prepared to trust an Irish Parliament it was the question of education. The Nationalist Members would have gladly yielded the right hon. Gentleman a longer portion of the time of the House than he had occupied if he had utilised it for the purpose of unbosoming himself in explanation of that letter. The right hon. Gentleman, with that fulness of knowledge which, as far as he (Mr. Healy) knew, was confined to Birmingham alone, had been good enough to say that he desired that the rules affecting religious instruction should be referred to Her Majesty. He (Mr. Healy) understood that when these Amendments were placed upon the Paper there was a Council of the Unionist Party, and the right hon. Gentleman said to those present—"Look here, my fine fellows, this is what I want you to do," and then, bringing his great mind to bear upon these most difficult questions, he directed exactly how the Amendment should be drawn. Was it not a remarkable thing that, with the extraordinary knowledge which came from having been the Mayor of an important city—[Opposition cries of "Question!"] He hoped hon. Gentlemen would not, in view of the short time allotted to him, 1186 fill up the interstices of his speech with disorderly interruptions. He was surprised that the right hon. Gentleman had not suggested to the hon. Baronet—he believed the whole Unionist Party were now Baronets—to the hon. Baronet the Member for South Derry (Sir T. Lea) that he should have directed his Amendment to the real question. There was one rule of the National Board of Education, at any rate, that he (Mr. Healy) asked that Nationalist Members should be allowed fair play upon, and that was the rule as to bees and poultry management. At that hour he would not discuss the question of bees. He found that the alphabetical index alone to the rules of the Commissioners of Education extended over 40 closely-printed pages. There was a rule as to the management of infants. What had Her Majesty to do with infants? The House had heard of the famous breach of promise of marriage case in which the counsel had only one letter to rely upon, and that letter contained the words "chops and tomato sauce." The present case was stranger still. Amongst the rules mentioned in the index were rules respecting optional subjects for town schools, optional subjects for girls, average attendances, applications for aid to establish National schools, result foes, lunatic asylums, and so on, for over 40 pages. Some of the rules even extended to the question of Biblical education, including, he presumed, the antecedents of the famous Herod. On the whole, it appeared to him that the Unionist Party, in passing over their Amendments in order to reach that of the hon. Baronet, had not done themselves justice. They had been gagged, forsooth, and yet they passed over Amendments such as that of the noble Lord (the Marquess of Carmarthen), whose abilities in blocking Bills they were all happy to recognise, and such as that placed on the Paper by the hon. Member for the St. Stephen's Green Division (Mr. W. Kenny). He could only express his regret that the Debate should have come to a conclusion in a bog, so to speak. He deplored the fact that this wholly unimportant Amendment should have been used to occupy the time of the House. One word as to the merits of the Amendment. The right hon. Member for Birmingham said that while the rules generally might be passed over that 1187 dealing with religious instruction was upon quite a different basis. Everybody remembered that early in the Session the noble Lord the Member for North Tyrone (Lord F. Hamilton) brought in a Bill to deal with the subject. That Bill having been rejected with the aid of the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord R. Churchill) it was now proposed, by a side wind on the Home Rule Bill, to effect the same object. And this was the gagged Party who, having passed over important Amendments, wasted the time of the House over the question of bee and poultry keeping. He regarded the Amendment as a slur on the Commissioners of National Education. Was it likely that Lord Monck, who was one of the framers of these rules, would needlessly alter them? Was it likely that Lord Morris would prejudice the Protestants of Ireland by making an invidious alteration in the rules? Could any fault be found with Sir Patrick Keenan? Then there was the Right Hon. W. F. Cogan. What was the matter with the Right Hon. W. F. Cogan?
§ Mr. W. Johnston
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put"; but Mr. Speaker withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (continuing)
said, it was an extraordinary thing that a gentleman who complained of the gag attempted to closure him. Then he took the case of the Rev. J. Stubbs of Trinity College. This was a typical case. [Cries of "Divide!"] The Rev. J. Stubbs was a gentleman of learning and distinction, and he hoped some Member for Trinity College would rise to defend him. [Renewed cries of "Divide!"] As the name of Mr. Stubbs was so offensive to the Tory Party he would take the case of Judge Shaw.
It being Eleven of the clock, Mr. Speaker, in pursuance of the Order of the House of the 21st August, interrupted the Debate, and put forthwith the Question on the Amendment:—
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 191; Noes 227.—(Division List, No. 282.)
§ Several of the said Amendments were agreed to.
Another Amendment proposed,
In page 12, line 39, after the word "Act," to insert the words "shall be appointed by the Lord Lieutenant, and."—(Mr. J. Morley.)
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 228; Noes 190.—(Division List, No. 283.)
Another Amendment proposed,
In page 13, line 23, after the words "thinks fit," to insert the words "after considering any representation that may be made by the Irish Government."—(Mr. J. Morley.)
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 228; Noes 190.—(Division List, No. 284.)
§ Other of the said Amendments were agreed to.
§ Motion made, "That the Bill be read a third time upon Wednesday next."—(Mr. J. Morley.)
§ Whereupon, in pursuance of the said Order, Mr. Speaker put the Question thereon forthwith.
§ Question agreed to.
§ Ordered, That the Bill be read the third time upon Wednesday next, and be printed. [Bill 448.]